Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:27PM - 165 Views
Cris Ritchie

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Anyone who read last week’s edition will know the people of Fort Branch are behind. It isn’t through any fault of their own, mind you, that water pumped from their underground wells is chock full of sediment, rendering their only source of water undrinkable, and without a filter, completely unusable.

There is no direct evidence of which we are aware that points to any one culprit for such poor water quality, though some folks on Fort Branch who years ago witnessed haul truck after haul truck going up the hollow with full loads of something, only to return empty, might have a different opinion. But for now, suffice is to say that these people need decent water, and they need it in the worst way.

Municipal water service is available all around Fort Branch. We understand that county officials are exploring funding avenues for the area, to which expansion will cost an estimated $700,000. To say that kind of money won’t be easy to come up with in this day and age would certainly be an understatement. The most expedient way to get the funding would be to borrow it.

Sadly, however, these issues being faced by the people of Fort Branch, who are lacking one of life’s most basic needs, isn’t exclusive to their community, but is indicative of the hole we are still trying to climb out of in Eastern Kentucky – namely infrastructure development.

Other counties are facing this same issue today, working to expand water service to rural pockets with little funding available. Coal severance used to be a mainstay for funding, but with coal production in the region down nearly 30 percent, that prospect for Kentucky’s coal counties is increasingly meager.

For the most part, around 90 percent, Perry County’s residents are fortunate that water service has been extended to them. But there remain hundreds and hundreds of people across this region who have yet to gain that access. Take, for example, an October 2010 news report in Letcher County noting only half of the county had access to potable water, which was actually up from 19 percent just four years before.

It seems shameful in a nation where nearly 45 years ago we put three men on the moon and brought them home safely, our state has yet to get a good drink of water to all of the people who want it. It isn’t as if Eastern Kentucky is some sort of third-world area, lacking the benefits of modernity. But for some, it may well feel that way.

— The Hazard Herald

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