Joe P. Asher|Daily Enterprise

The Benham City Council voted to approve an ordinance aimed toward providing a backup water source for the city during a meeting on Thursday.

Benham passes water plant ordinance

The Benham City Council approved the second reading of an ordinance designed to create a joint water treatment plant for Benham, Lynch, Cumberland and parts of Letcher County.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance at the panel’s regular meeting in October.

According to Benham City Clerk Jessica Smith, the ordinance is mainly designed to allow for a backup line for Cumberland, Benham and Lynch.

“The plant that would be built will be able to handle all three towns plus the residents of Letcher County from Skyview Bottom (the part not serviced by Cumberland’s water system,) and all the way out Flat Gap to the Virginia line,” Smith explained in a previous report.

The ordinance states the City of Benham relies on an abandoned mine source for its raw water and the city’s water treatment plant is antiquated and relies on major components which have been in service past their useful life. This situation has caused the city significant and ongoing difficulty in operating and maintaining these facilities. Also, the city continues to be confronted with the effects of an economic downturn while at the same time facing an obligation to provide safe and reliable drinking water.

The ordinance further states in consideration of these conditions, the Benham City Council seeks to, along with the cities of Cumberland and Lynch and the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, acquire and jointly operate a water treatment plant on the Poor Fork of the Cumberland River.

The ordinance passed with no opposition.

Smith also brought the council up to date on the city’s finances.

“When we paid the bond payment this time, it depleted the funds that were in the account,” Smith said. “We’ve been having to use that money to pay other things that we have to pay, mainly the IRS and the electric bill.”

Smith said every bill is current with the exception of the sewer bill.

“The sewer bill is $60,000 plus,” Smith said.

Smith pointed out some action will need to be taken eventually.

No action was taken by council at this time.