For nearly a week now something has been fishy with the water for dozens of customers in the Peaks Mill Water District, and officials are pinning the tail on the early July warehouse fire at Jim Beam that destroyed 45,000 barrels of bourbon and contaminated local waterways.
The blaze, which was set off by a lightning strike, burned for days, and the runoff from the alcohol and firefighting chemicals soaked into nearby rivers and creeks. The fire debris caused a 23-mile-long alcohol plume that began in Glenns Creek, moved into the Kentucky River and eventually dissipated in the Ohio River, leaving thousands of dead fish in its wake.
Though it has been a month since the fire, a group of residents in the Gregory Woods area say there is still a “sulfur or bad eggs” stench in the water. According to Peaks Mill Water District Chairman Church Quarles, tests have confirmed that the water is safe to drink despite the odor and taste.
But residents like Beth Hawkins and her family remain skeptical and are even wary about using the water to wash laundry. She said her family has resorted to using bottled water to brush their teeth — which is understandable. Despite verification that the water can be consumed and used, it is difficult to go against your better judgment — especially when your taste buds and nose are telling you otherwise.
Throughout the process, water officials were also able to locate a leak in the system that will need to be fixed before officials can aggressively flush the lines. Repairs could take three to four days, meaning many will have to live with the smell for a little while longer.
For his part, Franklin County 4th District Magistrate Scotty Tracy got Kroger to donate cases of bottled water to those affected. There is still some available at the water district’s office, 7165 U.S. 127 North, during business hours or after hours at the Owenton Road Fire Station.
We commend the swift action with which both Tracy and the water district have responded to this issue and realize the problems can’t be remedied overnight. However, we sympathize with those who are dealing with the smell and hope it gets better sooner rather than later.