OWENTON — Owen County residents lined up Thursday at the local fairgrounds for bottles and gallon jugs of water to drink. Elsewhere in town, they filled their own containers from fire trucks for filling toilets and giving to livestock.
“Is there any end in sight?” asked Andrea Hollar, as she waited for Travis Wainscott to fill a jug with drinking water for her.
Owen County Judge-Executive Carolyn Keith declared a state of emergency Thursday as thousands of residents entered their third full day without water.
Keith said crews have been working around the clock to fix a water main break that first cut off water supply to approximately 2,000 Kentucky American Water customers in Owen County Monday evening.
“We still have not solved the problem,” Keith said Thursday. “We have pretty much been without a source of water in Owen County.”
The main break — likely caused by this week’s bitterly cold temperatures — has prompted schools, churches and government offices to close throughout the week.
Jimmy Wainscott told The State Journal he’s made a living delivering water in the area since he was 16, but he’s “never seen anything like this.”
Susan Lancho, spokeswoman for Kentucky American Water, said the company is working hard to identify and fix the problem. Several efforts to do so have been unsuccessful, she said.
“It’s an extreme situation,” Lancho said. “We’re deploying every bit of experience and manpower that we can to get it fixed as quickly as we can.”
Lancho told The State Journal this morning that the company had already been in the process of building a pipeline to connect the newest plant to Owenton’s water distribution system. The recent issue has prompted them to expedite the process.
The newer plant produces 20 times more water than the current plant, Lancho said, which will be a big help in fully restoring the water supply for residents.
As of this morning, the pipeline was connected. Crews worked through the night to chlorinate the new line to remove contamination, a process that Lancho said takes several hours.
“Things seem to be progressing,” Lancho said.
Kentucky American Water hopes to restore water to all Owen County customers sometime today.
Until then, Lancho said more bottled water would be brought into the county and handed out to residents who need it.
Customers remain under a boil water advisory in the event the water starts flowing again.