Somerset’s new state-of-the-art water plant is about 80 percent complete and should be up and running by the first of next year, according to Charles R. Dick, water and wastewater manager for City of Somerset Utilities. The official completion time “ ... sowing grass and everything” is March 2014, he said.
The $21.5 million facility will increase Somerset Water Service’s treatment capacity from 10 million to 16 million gallons of water a day. The new plant, replacing the existing facility, will utilize membrane filtration, a relatively new technology that removes bacteria and other microorganisms, particulate material and natural organic material that can impact color, taste and odors to the water. A chlorine generator that makes chlorine from salt brine will replace 2,000-pound chlorine cylinders that can be a safety hazard
Somerset Water Service currently supplies water to Somerset as well as Science Hill, Eubank, Southe-astern Water Association and Western Pulaski Water District. Burnside has its own water treatment plant and Bronston Water Association buys water from Monticello Utility Commission.
“The last time I checked with Kentucky Division of Water, Somerset Water Service was supplying water each day to 112,000 people in five counties,” Dick said.
Construction of the new water plant is “ ... going remarkably smooth,” Dick said. He antici-pates no future problems but conceded a switchover from the old to new plant “ ... will be a touchy process.”
Other improvements to the water system are planned. On the drawing board is a 3-million-gallon ground storage tank on Oak Hill Knob and a new booster station that will pump water to an existing storage tank on Reservoir Knob.
“We’re awaiting funding for this $7.6 million project,” said Dick. The large storage tank will replace an existing 1-million-gallon tank on Oak Hill Knob and the new booster station will replace a smaller one now located behind the Kentucky Department of Highways’ complex.
The new water treatment plant, at the same Waitsboro site, consists of three new buildings and renovated existing structures. An upgraded intake pump to draw more water out of Lake Cumberland at Waitsboro is already in place and existing water transmission lines have capacity to carry more water but “ ... we’re already looking at upgrading transmission lines,” said Dick.
Financing of the new water treatment facility is with a $5 million grant and $14 million in low-interest loans from United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration), and $5 million in city money. Somerset qualifies for Rural Development money because 81 percent of the treated water goes to rural areas.
Judy Construction Company of Cynthiana is general contractor for the project.