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Lewisport’s new water plant to serve more customers; possibly Hawesville

The Lewisport City Council monthly meeting was Thursday, October 20 and two of the owners of Bluegrass Engineering, Matt Curtis and Bryan Lovan, attended to discuss the details of moving forward with the construction of a new water treatment plant in Lewisport. The new facility would not be operating for approximately 4-6 years, but they need to get started now in order to keep up with the growth of Lewisport as well as possibly supplying the City of Hawesville with cleaner water in the future.

An Option to Help Hawesville

“We will need to look at what your other potential customers could do,” Curtis said. “I know there’s been some preliminary discussions with Hawesville. I had a conversation with Mayor King about that. He’s aware of it and there’s some receptiveness there that I was pleasantly surprised to hear. That could eventually be an option there. With that being said, it’s not Lewisport taking over Hawesville. It would be Lewisport selling the water to Hawesville. Hawesville will still operate their system and the people that work there would still be employed by the City of Hawesville. This is an option to help out.”

Mayor Chad Gregory said Matt Curtis has already been working with Lewisport’s existing water system for several years and knows it well. “He’s been around,” Gregory said. “He’s worked with Hawesville quite a bit as well. He knows the County and knows the situations we face here. I want to allow them to work with us on this water project for the City of Lewisport.”

Matt Curtis introduced Bryan Lovan, Project Engineer & Project Manager at Bluegrass Engineering to the council members and went on to provide many important details concerning the best way to move forward with the project. “We are 2 of the owners of Bluegrass Engineering,” Curtis said. “There are 3 of us. Brian is really the brains of the operation when it comes to treatment plants. He’s worked with treatment plants for 40 years.

Mayor Gregory, Jason Roberts (City Administrator) and I – we talked several months ago about looking at the future of Lewisport and in Hancock County, as far as water treatment. You guys have one of the best-tasting water for a number of years in the State of Kentucky, which is something to hang your hat on. We’re excited to be working with you guys to make this next step with the new water treatment plant. One of the first things getting into this is where do you put it? That’s really what we’re here to talk about tonight. There are 3 sites that we’ve looked at.

Three Potential Sites

Each council member got a print-out with the list of the 3 sites: Site # 1 is at City Hall and where the existing water plant is. Site #2 is behind the Lewisport Library and Site #3 is at the actual site of the existing sludge lagoon, where the waste from the water treatment process is managed.

Curtis said Site #1 is “very limited in acreage and there is a lot of existing infrastructure there. City Hall would have to be relocated, for instance, and the cost to build a new one would factor in as well. Two of the three wells are also on that site. In order to continue to have operations in the existing plant and build a new plant at the same time, it would drive the cost even higher.”

Library Site is Best Choice

About Site #2, Curtis said: “A couple of years ago the library was built and when all that discussion was going on there were conversations about that property and the City looked to try to secure it for a potential site. Of these 3 sites, that is by far the best site (Site #2) due to it’s proximity to your existing infrastructure. You’ve got a little bit of water line that you’d have to run but nothing significant. You don’t have the restrictions at that site that you would have for Site #1 or at Site #3 (lagoon). The lagoons to me, I don’t see how you could do that and still maintain operations because you’re constantly feeding that sludge. So we struck that one out pretty quick. The library site (Site #2) is the best avenue for the City of Lewisport to move forward with the new water treatment plant on.”

Curtis said that he and Lovan are going to be working with Jason Roberts and his crew and are going to ensure that Lewisport gets the plan that they want. “We don’t design a plan in one community and then just do the same plan in another. Each community’s raw water is different. The way they want to operate the plant – these guys are operating that plant, not us. We work with them during the design process to ensure that it’s a plan that they want to operate and that they understand and take ownership of it.”

Groundwater vs Midwater

Curtis went on to explain the classes and types of water plants, such as groundwater versus midwater: “Your existing water plant is a Class 1. With a groundwater plant there are less restrictions on your operators than if you become a groundwater plant under the influence of surface or a surface water plant. If for some unknown and unjustifiable reason we were to go to Ohio and start touring water out of Ohio, that would immediately trigger you all into a different level of operations, meaning someone would have to be at that treatment plant 24 hours a day. We don’t want to do that because it’s an added expense to the operation of your system. We are going to try to keep it as a groundwater/well plant to do this project.

The next step is to get Project Profile in and get your name on the list to let them know we’re going forward. We’ve already started looking at some of your raw water data. Jason and I have been talking about the ground water wells. We are going to start looking at those wells. The next thing is finding out how much water we can get and what effect it has on the well – it’s called a draw map. So if you’re pulling from well #3 and you pull so hard, what kind of effect does it have on wells #1 and #2? And that will tell us if we need 1 more well or 2 more wells, or no new well. That is the initial step in the design process.”

Lovan offered details about the Breckinridge County water plant construction to illustrate the potential time-frame of the Lewisport water project. “We started working on that project (Hardinsburg water treatment plant) in 1999 and the plant came online in 2007. It’s a long process when you start looking at building a new water treatment plant.”

Mayor Gregory said they should have done this years ago, but at that time they were not growing like they are now as a city. “We’re starting to grow. Homes are being built. It is still going to happen even though it’s going to be slow-going. We’ve got to get going on it now.”

Curtis echoed Gregory’s statement by pointing out that Lewisport doesn’t want to get caught in a situation where they are a fast-growing community without the resources to support that growth.

Lewisport City Administrator Jason Roberts said that some families are ready to move into these new houses and have purchased them before construction is completed. “The business is going to increase for the Lewisport area and on the highways around us. I am optimistic about that.”

By Jennifer Wimmer

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