The water shortage crisis Buckhorn suffered should not have happened. We failed the residents of Buckhorn. No one should be without water for an extended period of time in this modern era. While it is impossible for breaks to be prevented completely, especially during cold weather, we need to make sure our recovery time is quick.
Playing the blame game is pointless. What is important is for local and state officials to take responsibility and bring about solutions for residents of Buckhorn.
The City of Hazard has done what they can to supply residents with water, but most of their infrastructure is nearing 80 years of age. The city workers need to be commended for trying their best to fix leaks and restore water. Several of these workers did not have water themselves when they were out trying to find and fix leaks. They had to come home covered in mud. The Perry County Fiscal Court and several businesses have helped supply the residents of Buckhorn with bottled water and they deserve to be commended as well.
We need to look toward the future. We need to do it as a community by being persistent with officials at local, state and federal levels.
State Rep. Chris Fugate spoke at a water forum in the library at the Buckhorn High School Feb. 3. He talked about long-term and short-term solutions to the water situation at Buckhorn. The short-term solution is interconnects with Knott and Breathitt Counties. This would cost approximately $1.7 million and would take up to two years to install.
The long-term solution is building a water plant on Buckhorn Lake, which would cost $11 million and would take approximately eight years to build.
That will be eight years too late. Buckhorn needs help now. Even the interconnects will take nearly two years to complete. What will happen next year when winter rolls around again? The City of Buckhorn should not have to go 30 days without water.
The City of Hazard will be conducting a water audit to help them discover the source of the leaks. While they deserve some recognition for taking steps to help combat water leaks, this won’t immediately help the City of Buckhorn when they go without water for a long period of time.
We need to find a solution during the time in which we’re waiting for a more permanent solution.
Local and state officials need to lead the way in finding ways to help Buckhorn during the time it takes for these solutions to be built. They owe at least that to the people of Buckhorn to show that they are not forgotten.