UPDATE | Martin County water customers ‘cautiously optimistic’ that new management will repair water woes

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MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 11/20/19 @ 8:45 p.m.
An outside company is officially coming to help with the long list of issues that has plagued Martin County for several years.

Alliance Water Resources will manage the Martin County Water District effective Jan. 1, 2020. (Source: WSAZ)

Wednesday, the county’s water board announced a contract with Alliance Water Resources. The company will manage the county's water and sewer effective Jan. 1, 2020.

“We are excited to be able to take this next step, and we feel confident that Alliance is the right company to lead us where we want to go,” said Martin County Board Chair Jimmy Kerr.

Kerr says he hopes the Missouri-based company will help Martin County’s water system become one of the best in Kentucky, and leave the history of water outages and other issues in the past.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Nina McCoy, a member of a group of concerned citizens in the county who have raised awareness of the issues surrounding the water.

“I've been in this fight since 2000,” McCoy said. “I have been trying to get our citizens voices heard, saying there is something wrong with our water. We don't trust water.”

Kerr admits that the past couple of years have been chaotic since the new board took over the water system, but adds the problems are stabilizing and hopes it restores the community’s trust.

“I have said it many times,” Kerr said. “The easiest thing that we would do is fix the pipes, fix the leaks. The hardest thing we would do is gain the trust of our customers back. What I hope is that is what happens with Alliance coming in.”

The partnership comes after an order from the PSC to the board to seek outside help for the water woes.

Alliance has helped 40 water companies in several states. The president told WSAZ that, in his opinion, Martin County was one of the most troubled he has seen.

The relief from Alliance does come at a cost. To cover the expenses of the company, an additional $3.16 surcharge will be added to customers’ monthly water bills. Kerr says that will bring the average bill to $60 a month, which is far less than the $10 to $20 rate increase the county had previously faced and avoided.



ORIGINAL STORY 11/19/19
The Martin County Water District is having a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the details of a contract with a new management company.

Alliance Water Resources will manage the county's water and sewer effective Jan. 1, 2020.

The press conference will be at 1 p.m. at Martin County Fiscal Court. Martin County Water Board Member Jimmy Kerr will announce the signing of the contract.

Martin County has been dealing with water issues for years. The water recently tested above federal limits for disinfection byproducts, leading to a warning label on water bills. They have also seen several shortages, even leading officials to declare a state of emergency in the county last year.

In September, Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressman Hal Rogers announced that the county will receive $7.23 million in grant funding.