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Sewage System Overwhelmed
The community of Butler Kentucky is perched along the Licking River in Pendleton County.
But when we have heavy rain, the city's sewer system gets inundated with runoff and dumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater and sewage into the beautiful waterway.
In the last nine days, city and county officials have isolated the problem, and it's a big one. Only Local 12 News Reporter Rich Jaffe was there today as they pitched in to come up with a solution.
Clean water game fish, from smallmouth bass to muskies, call the Licking River home. But this waterway's at risk every time it rains, because Butler's old sewage treatment plant gets hammered by run off, flushing both sewage and excess rainwater into the river.
Alice Smith, Mayor of Butler: "The tank holds about a hundred and fifty thousand gallons. If we get a hard rain it goes up to about 380. That's too much water and sewage. Mainly, it's water cause that's what's causing it to overflow is the influx of water."
After an unusually wet spring, nine days ago, city and county officials walked the streets of Butler and identified a number of problems.
Bill Mitchell, Pendleton Co. Community Development.: "The city and I went around and dyed all the drains here trying to find out if there was water coming off the streets and into the system and the three we're talking about we found."
The officials identified a group of streets where storm water runoff drains have collapsed or filled up, forcing massive amounts of runoff water into the sewer system and then flooding out the treatment plant.
Knowing that nothing is easy, when the team came to this intersection to inspect some problems with the sewers, they found the street is also in the process of being paved. And if they tear it up to fix the sewers, they'll be tearing up all that new blacktop.
Gathered around a conference table at City Hall, the Judge Executive laid out the harsh realities to these public problem solvers. "I'm going to be blunt with you mayor, our money is for sewer projects and... your city council has to figure out how it's going to handle the storm drain problem."
Job one is the runoff problem, then grant money will be used to fix the treatment plant. Big jobs for a new mayor and longtime public official.
Henry Bertram, County Judge Executive: "She and I are going to work together and fiscal court and the counsel working together to make sure we get this done where it's not going to be an environmental issue for the people in the City of Butler and hopefully for people in the future down here.
As for the paving issue, after a few phone calls, the Judge Executive had to resign himself to the reality that tearing up a newly paved street would be a cheaper choice when it's time to fix the sewers than trying to get the sewer construction on a fast track before the paving job.
We'll let you know how the project comes out.