Today, Gov. Andy Beshear awarded $11.8 million to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), the second recipient of funding from the Better Kentucky Plan’s $250 million Cleaner Water Program.
The program will deliver clean drinking water and improve water and sewer systems across the state, creating approximately 3,800 jobs.
LFUCG will use the funding to replace the current chlorine gas disinfection process used at the Town Branch and West Hickman wastewater treatment plants to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases in treated wastewater. Instead, the plant will use a new Ultraviolet (UV) disinfectant system to treat the water of harmful microorganisms before it is discharged back into water bodies. Wastewater is used water, including sewage, commonly originating from residential or commercial sources. Replacing chlorine improves safety by eliminating toxic gas exposure risks to employees and the community, and reduces the potential for byproducts to form in drinking water supplies.
“This UV disinfection retrofit will offer a safer alternative to treat wastewater using technology to eliminate potentially harmful chemical exposure to Kentuckians and the environment,” said Gov. Beshear. “With no chemicals to transport and store, it is also a more efficient process for treatment plant operators. Investing in wastewater projects may not turn heads, but it is the right thing to do to keep our community water systems safe and modern.”
Fayette County’s entire county allocation will be used to fund the project in Lexington.
“Lexington has been working to improve the water in its creeks and streams for many years, and we have made great progress. Today’s announcement takes our work to a new level, making our wastewater treatment process safer for our city,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.
The Bluegrass Area Development District submitted the funding request to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA), the agency responsible for administering the $250 million Cleaner Water Program.
Cleaner Water Program funding will be allocated in three ways:
- $150 million will be allocated based on each county’s proportion of the state’s population, with the exception of Jefferson County’s share, which is discounted by 50% based on its high per capita allocation from the federal act. A list of the allocations by county can be found here.
- $50 million is available for grants to utilities to provide drinking water services to unserved, rural customers or to utilities under a federal consent decree. The KIA shall consider social, economic and environmental benefits in determining the allocations.
- $49.9 million is available to supplement grants for projects with a cost in excess of a county’s allocation amount and other available grant sources. The social, economic and environmental benefits shall be considered in determining project allocations. KIA will receive $75,000 to administer the grant program.
“Clean water often requires better infrastructure and this project will provide a vital upgrade that benefits the more than 100,000 households served by Lexington’s sanitary sewer system,” said KIA Executive Director and Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Ray Perry.
“Without a doubt, federal COVID-relief funds provided the General Assembly with a once in a lifetime chance to invest in ways that will have a positive, lasting impact for generations to come,” said State Rep. Matt Lockett. “While there were many ways to spend the money, we chose to allocate funds in areas we believed could improve the quality of life for Kentuckians across the Commonwealth. I thank the Governor and his administration for the opportunity to share this news with Jessamine County and celebrate this great infrastructure announcement.”
A call for Cleaner Water Program funding requests launched June 1, 2021. Water Resource coordinators, representing Kentucky’s 15 Area Development Districts and Area Water Management Councils, may submit project profiles through the Water Resource Information System portal to indicate interest in funding from the Cleaner Water Program. Eligible government agencies, such as city-owned water or sewer utilities, water commissions, water and sewer districts and counties, may collaborate with a coordinator and council to submit a project. The application and award process will be ongoing throughout 2021 until all funding is committed.
Information about the Better Kentucky Plan, including the Cleaner Water Program, as well as grants for broadband expansion, school facility upgrades and vocational education center renovations, can be found at governor.ky.gov/BetterKy/.
The Better Kentucky Plan adds to recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger following the effects of the pandemic.