Joe P. Asher
The city of Cumberland has been suffering from water service problems for some time.
Reliability has been an issue for customers of the city’s water service. Mayor Carl Hatfield explained the underlying cause of the frequent problems in an interview Tuesday.
“We start back 12 years ago,” stated Hatfield. “In order to get the water to some of the outlying areas that have a higher elevation, you have to pump water into the tanks to the point where they overflow to provide the pressure to some of the outlying homes and residences.”
Hatfield explained the elevation of some homes can cause problems.
“Some of them have a higher altitude than the water tank itself,” said Hatfield
According to Hatfield, most of the homes affected are outside the city limits.
“These were add-ons, expansions, that the county came and put in,” explained Hatfield. “They did add one tank up Cloverlick. But because of the expansions they put in, it drew the water out of the tanks that would normally serve the city residents.”
Hatfield said getting water to outlying areas is a problem.
“To have the water flow to the outlying areas we had to overflow the tanks,” said Hatfield. “And by that increased pressure in the tanks, it created some of the old lines to break open.”
He said the problems with leaks and overflowing tanks creates wasted water.
“In order for us to sell 5,000,000 gallons of water a month, we have to produce 24,000,000 gallons.”
Hatfield stated that the problems are being addressed.
“We have an engineering company coming to look for some leaks, but if we fix that leak the pressure is going to open up more leaks. We can’t stop the overflow of the tanks because of the pressure on the distribution line. We’ll just have to fix every leak we can and live with overflowing tanks,” stated Hatfield.
He said work is being done on the water system.
“We have an electrical firm coming in to repair a control panel which controls one of the service pumps,” stated Hatfield. “We are working on it. We have a construction company coming in to dig up the line where we think there’s a major leak.”
Hatfield explained that Harlan County will be handling some of the problems.
“The county was up here today, Paul Miller, he’s with the county engineer. We went and looked at the area where we thought the leak was and he and magistrate David Kennedy said they would get the construction company off of another job and bring them up here tomorrow,” stated Hatfield.
According to Hatfield, there is water available, but the water pressure is low.
“The people say they don’t have water, but I went and knocked on some doors today and they do have water, but it’s low water pressure,” said Hatfield.
Cumberland City Council member Charles Raleigh explained his understanding of the frequent problems.
“We don’t have people that can basically take care of the problems like setting the altitude valves, and the timers, and replacing certain parts. On their behalf, they don’t really have backup parts that they need.”
Raleigh explained parts aren’t always available.
“If we have a busted line, some sizes of the line they have, but these bigger sizes — they don’t have them in stock at the water plant, so they have to order them,” stated Raleigh.
Raleigh pointed out that lack of water can be a dangerous situation.
“This is an emergency. You want to talk about how dangerous it is — you’re talking about elderly people going without water. They have nobody bringing them water, they have nobody telling them where to go to get water. They’re paying for a service they’re not getting,” stated Raleigh.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org