$2.1 million USDA loan to fund water plan for Shelby

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North Shelby Water District wants greater availability to meet demand

By Lisa King

A federal loan will allow North Shelby Water Company to build infrastructure that will provide an increased amount of water for the community.

USDA Rural Development State Director Tom Fern announced last week that North Shelby had received a $2.1 million loan that will be used to install a 12-inch water transmission main, a booster pump station and other items.

“USDA is proud to work in partnership with North Shelby Water Company on this much needed improvement project,” Fern said in a release announcing the loan.

North Shelby Water Company Manager David Hedges said the project, which he hopes to get under way in about three months, would allow the county to draw on a good source of water when it’s needed.

“Basically, we are trying to prepare for the future,” he said. “The eastern half of our system tends to struggle during hot weather to keep up with the demand. What this is going to do is allow us to take water from Louisville, where we have ample amounts.

“The western half of our system is supplied from Louisville, the eastern half is supplied by Shelbyville and Frankfort. So we need a bigger line between the two so I can take more water from Louisville and send it during hot weather to the eastern half of our system, so we can take some of the demand away off Frankfort and Shelbyville.”

The North Shelby Water Company serves a rural population of 12,335 – about 4,860 households – from the Jefferson County line to Franklin County.  

Tom Doyle, manager of the Shelbyville Municipal Water and Sewer Commission, which serves 8,200 customers with water and 7,000 with sewer, said the move would decrease the amount of water that North Shelby Water Company purchases from his company.

“It seems that they are making more of an effort to purchase from Louisville and Frankfort, but it’s too early to speculate [on what that will mean for Shelbyville Water],” he said. “It’s going to have an impact on us. I’m just not sure what that will be yet.”

He added that he understands North Shelby’s reasoning. “It’s probably going to assist them more in drought-type situations,” he said.

Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said he was glad to hear about the funding.

“The North Shelby project is just building up more redundancy,” he said. “They’re expecting growth in the community and need a redundant water supply, so there’s no interruptions, and to meet the growing demand of the growing community.”

Rothenburger said the project follows on the heels of another water project he and District 5 Magistrate Eddie Kingsolver have been working on for quite a while, that of the installation of a water tower in the eastern portion of the county.

“The U.S. 60 Water District is moving forward with plans to build a seven-hundred-and-fifty-thousand gallon water tank in Peytona,” he said.  “At our meeting tomorrow [Tuesday] night, we will be deeding over about one acre of land that the county owns behind the EMS station, and that’s where the tank will be going.”

Rothenburger said that move would increase water pressure and volume tremendously in that area.

Hedges said he hopes North Shelby’s project will help to prevent the types of water problems the county has experienced in the past.

“We had a really bad drought in 2007, and it brought a lot of issues to life, and since then we’ve been very active in trying to prevent that from happening again,” he said. “You can’t stop Mother Nature, but you can prepare the best you can.”

Hedges said he couldn’t supply too many details about the project at this time.

“We will hopefully start late summer or early fall; that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “It’s hard to say how long it will take, hopefully about three months.”

Fern’s announcement said the funding – terms for the loan are 40 years at an interest rate of 3.125 percent – is one part of the USDA’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“Access to clean, safe and reliable water is critical to improving the quality of life for rural Kentuckians,” he said in the release. 

In Kentucky, from 2009 to 2012, the release said the USDA has funded $3,658,505,599 for 18,348 projects, encompassing grants and loans in many sectors.