Asking the county for their help in a water issue in the Catrons Creek area, Pamela and Kenneth Dixon, who reside at 40 Walnut Loop, approached members of the Harlan Fiscal Court on Thursday asking that they address an issue of water flowing onto their property causing damage to their home.
“We have a pipe carrying county road water completely around our home,” said Pamela Dixon. “This is a metal pipe that was installed in the early 1970s. The pipe is now rusted, become soft and is collapsing in on itself. There are actually large holes being created around our yard at random. The pipe that is there now is only 18 inches round and that would not be big or sufficient enough to carry the amount of water it needs to even if the pipe was new.
“This water, and overflow from this water where the pipe is not big enough, is damaging the property of not only ours, but our neighbors who you see sitting here today. This damage to our property is not what should be happening. We also have a pipe coming from the mountains from behind our property and it carries mountain water that adjoins the pipe that is in our yard and both of those together flow into an open ditch also on the Dixon property.”
Dixon said she was told by a county employee the county had put these pipes in place a number of years ago. She added there was never any easement given by them or previous property owners allowing the water to flow onto this property.
Saying this issue has caused “extensive damage to her garage, Dixon said an open ditch on their property is “a danger to small children and pets and will create a mosquito problem in the summer.”
“This is a clear and urgent problem, and upon research, and knowing our legal rights we know it’s not our responsibility to leave this pipe on our property when it’s damaging our home,” said Dixon. “The water that is leaking from this pipe behind our house is on a small grade. That water is seeping down and coming under our house. We have neighbors who have already had to replace their floor joists twice because of this issue. We have made all of our neighbors aware of this issue and they stand on the same ground as we do that this issue needs to be taken care of and taken care of promptly.”
Dixon added she also has concerns about “black mold” from this issue.
Harlan County Engineer Leo Miller was asked for his professional opinion on this matter and he said the pipe carrying mountain water was put in by the county, but the pipe under their home was put there by a previous property owner.
Giving a legal opinion on the matter, Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe said he “didn’t have a problem with the county maintaining the ditch which goes up to the Dixon property and the ditch that runs to the river ultimately from the mountain water,” but he said, “if a private pipe was put in on private property, it’s not a county issue.”
Dixon then said “they would be happy to give the county an easement to handle the water.”
“We can deal with the county water that comes from the county road, but as far as the pipe, for example,… if a culvert underneath replacing that pipe would fix it, I think that’s the Dixons’ responsibility…because it was a privately placed pipe on private property under a private residence,” said Busroe. “If there’s an alternative some way that the fiscal court wants to address, that would fully be within the perimeters of the county property and responsibility, which would include so much on the side of the road, whatever — pour it on it. If a by-product of that is helping the Dixons and their neighbors — that’s something that should be done.”
No action was taken on the matter by the court. Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said more information needs to be gathered. He did agree to give the Dixons an answer as to what the county intends to do on Wednesday.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, or on Twitter @Nola_hde