The City of Whitesville is seeking $1 million to alleviate potentially catastrophic issues in its ailing wastewater treatment plant through a Kentucky Infrastructure Authority grant.

For more than a year, city government has been "band-aiding" malfunctions at the plant, but as of Jan. 1, the issues had become too major to continue with spot-fixes and using spare parts to maintain, Whitesville Mayor Patsy Mayfield, said.

"Our major problem is that it started malfunctioning and the (ultraviolet disinfection) UV system started getting bad and the pumps and filters, you name it, it just started happening," she said. "We have one blower that is going and we are using other parts to keep things going. It was built in 1984, so it is time to start replacing things on there. Myself and my staff went to Frankfort yesterday and applied for the grant. They (KIA) said they would see what they could do."

The plant, which serves 300 residents, has been cited twice in the past year, according to the grant application, for high levels of E. coli due to inefficiencies in the plant's current UV system, leaks in the aeration basin and the lack of a floor drain in the treatment plant.

The other major issue facing the plant is that two of its three aeration basin blowers, which provide air to wastewater to remove dissolved gasses and oxidize dissolved metals such as iron, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), are no longer functioning. During high-flow conditions, the last operating blower will not be able to provide adequate treatment, which could result in a potential health risk and an increased probability of running into violations with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Division of Water, she said.

If the funding is awarded, Joe Bailey of Water Management Services LLC, who won the project bid, estimates that the full scope of repairing the three blowers, improving the UV system, removal of solids from aerated lagoons, rehabilitation of the effluent pump station, rehabilitation of gravity filters, replacing leaky air-head piping and the installation of new aeration headers can be accomplished within six months, Mayfield said.

"It could be sooner than that," she said. "He is on top of it, that's for sure."

While the staff at the plant have worked diligently to keep things going and safe, she said, the situation has become dire as she reaches out to the state and Daviess County officials for aid in helping Whitesville get the grant.

"I am trying to get help from (Daviess County Judge-Executive) Judge Al Mattingly and I talked to Rep. Suzanne Miles," she said. "I'm just trying to find help, because we are really in need of a grant for the system. They were both very cooperative and said they would help us out all they could. If we don't get our grant, we will just have to fix it the best we can when funds become available. That is all we can do. We’ll start with our most critical first, the UV system and the blowers."

There will be a public hearing about issues with the plant and the grant application at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 13 at Whitesville City Hall, 10436 Main Cross St.

"I encourage all of the residents of Whitesville to come," she said.

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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