Earlier this summer, some Peaks Mill Water District residents were placed on a boil water advisory. At the start of December, the advisory continues. The advisory was first issued in late July, over 120 days ago.
Beth Hawkins, a water district customer who spoke to The State Journal when the advisory first began, said she’s recently noticed that the smell has gone away, but the water coming out of her tap still has a bad taste. She said she still doesn’t trust the water from her pipes. In addition to the bottled water provided at a few pickup locations in Peaks Mill, her family buys jugs to use for cooking.
For Thanksgiving, the family divided up cooking between Hawkins’ house and her mother’s house next door, using bottled and jugs of water to cook.
“We are not in a third world country. We are in the capital city and we can’t get clean drinking water,” Hawkins said.
Besides waiting for the boil water advisory to end, Hawkins doesn’t have a solution to provide another source of water to her home. She thought about trying to collect rainwater to run in the house, but it would require an entire overhaul of her house’s plumbing system and would be up to the weather.
Last week, PMWD announced that all of Strohmeier Road, including Stillwater Campgrounds, and from 6700 Peaks Mill Road up to and including 7738 Peaks Mill Road were lifted from the boil water advisory. Under such an advisory, water must be boiled for at least three minutes before drinking or cooking with it.
“We’ve got some optimism,” PMWD Board Chairman Church Quarles said about efforts to remove residents from the boil water advisory. He estimated Wednesday that the district will be on track to solve the boil water advisory by Christmas or the first of the year. He said that there are about 150 houses, or water meters, affected by the advisory.
Later this week, a leak in the Kays Branch area will be fixed and residents in that area might be able to come off the advisory after that. On Monday, the board formally approved a connection to Kentucky American Water in Owen County and will begin using that water in homes near Old Peaks Mill School and Zone Three, which includes Gregory Woods and parts of Owen County.
PMWD’s case was referred to the Division of Enforcement Branch under the state's Department of Environmental Protection. Quarles said that it means PMWD will have some state oversight over the next year. For instance, if the enforcement branch catches a low chlorine level that PMWD doesn’t, there will be some penalties on the district.
PMWD must also resubmit a more detailed corrective action plan under the order. Quarles said the previous version has not been revised but will be submitted around Dec. 15. With the holiday season, it might be January before the plan the approved by all necessary parties, he added.
A consultant from Louisville Water has a meeting planned with PMWD on Friday to talk about a hydraulic model, Quarles said. The model would help the water district map lines and find aging issues in the system as part of more long-term solutions to prevent another lengthy boil water advisory in the future.
“Things are moving in a positive direction,” said Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells, acknowledging communication between the DoW and Louisville Water with PMWD.
He said the water district has not asked for financial support from the county to fix the system, but it can ask in the future if needed. Wells said that he could not recall another boil water advisory lasting this long in Franklin County.