City will ask state for loan for over-budget Pittman Creek screw press

Apr. 23—Somerset's wastewater treatment plant is a few steps closer to being in compliances with state regulations, but Mayor Alan Keck explained at Monday's City Council meeting that more funding is needed to finish the job.

The council passed a resolution allowing Keck to request more funds from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA), a state program that provides low-interest loans for local governments.

The city has already received KIA loans, but Keck explained that due to rising costs the project has come in over budget.

"This is also a piece of our sewer plant that was scheduled to be built when the plant was upgraded back in 2014," Keck said. "There was a decision made not to do that. Subsequently, it's cost us millions of dollars extra and delays in the process, none of which are the councilors' or my fault, but state and federal agencies.

"As with many things the costs have gone up, up, up and up," Keck continued. "Why we're voting on this today? I know some have said we need more time, (but) we want this on the May agenda for KIA. If we don't get the funds approved, then the 90-day bid window will expire and we'll have to rebid it and start all over."

He later added, "I don't like that it's over budget, but there's nothing I can do about it."

The funding is for a dewatering system, known as a screw press, that will be used to press byproduct from the Pittman Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Keck said the press "allows us to press our sludge, get the water out of it for better disposal and more optimal functionality at our plant."

Keck reminded the council that the equipment is required due to an "agreed order" between the city and the state handled through courts.

"We have to do this. I inherited this," Keck said. "This predates my administration, even though we're at year five-and-a-half almost."

Between June 2016 and October 2017, the administration of then-Mayor Eddie Girdler received 14 violations from the Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Those violations included multiple instances of the plant's output of ammonia nitrogen, E. Coli, carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand, whole effluent toxicity and suspended solids percentages, failing to comply with Kentucky Administrative Regulations.

The city entered into an "agreed order" with the state which required changes to be made to the facility which would prevent further violations from taking place.

Later in the meeting, the council revisited the wastewater plant subject as they held a first reading on an ordinance that would annex a portion of the property around the Pitman Creek plant into the city limits.

City Attorney John Adams explained that the annexation was due to the older agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Where we've put the screw press is outside our current boundaries with the Corps of Engineers, and so in getting a survey to locate for the new re-lease from the Corps of Engineers, I believe it's the best practice to go in and annex the entire property," Adams said.

He added that the city had to expand their original lease with the Corps to put the screw press in.

The council will hold a second reading and vote on the annexation ordinance at a later date.

Carla Slavey can be reached at