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Commission increases efforts to supply water to county residents

County leaders intensified efforts Thursday to avert future drinking water shortages by assigning the county’s Emergency Management Agency to coordinate tap requests.

Friday, June 22, 2001

County leaders intensified efforts Thursday to avert future drinking water shortages by assigning the county’s Emergency Management Agency to coordinate tap requests.

The EMA has coordinated relief efforts in the past, such as providing water tanks and bottled drinking water during drought times, but the agency can also help prevent such disasters, commissioner Jason Stephens said at Thursday’s meeting.

Grant writers and water companies in the county have "made great strides in giving access to potable drinking water to thousands of county residents over the years," Stephens said.

However, the commission continually receives requests for water lines and taps, which need to be considered, especially now that summer is here, he said.

With unanimous support from Stephens, commissioner George Patterson and commission president Paul Herrell, the county directed the EMA to work with Ralph Kline’s office of the Ironton-Lawrence County CAO (which can write water grants) and with the water companies of Lawrence County to investigate each water request received within the last 12 months.

The agency was also asked to establish a database of information about each request, and continue such efforts in the future.

"The information gathered combined with a commitment from all parties involved will establish a systematic approach to meet the ultimate goal of providing access to water to all residents of Lawrence County," Stephens said.

"It’s a not a quick fix but it will benefit a lot of people in the long run," he added.

Additionally, the commission has directed its grant writers to pencil in $110,000 on the county’s annual Community Development Block Grant request for water tap assistance – double what it has been in the past.

The extra tap money, and the new EMA directive, will make building new water lines in the county more efficient and effective, commissioners said.

Patterson added that there is a need to get with water companies now to plan projects because they often have limited resources.

Water projects total about 60 percent of the county’s CDBG request for the 2001 fiscal year, which began last July.

Amounts include $9,000 for Lawrence Economic Development Corporation support; $21,000 for Proctorville’s water tank replacement and other improvements; $16,000 for Windsor Township Fire Department’s Jaws of Life; $28,000 to match funds for Coal Grove’s water project; and $9,000 for fair housing.