Water Affordability Crisis in Martin County, Kentucky
On September 30, 2019, Martin County Concerned Citizens and Appalachian Citizens Law Center will hold a press conference to discuss the launch of their new report, “Drinking Water Affordability Crisis in Martin County, Kentucky.” The report finds that water is currently unaffordable for nearly half of Martin County residents. The report calls on state and federal officials to provide immediate assistance to residents with high water bills, inconsistent service, and critical water quality concerns.
Representatives from Martin County Concerned Citizens and Appalachian Citizens Law Center will present findings from the report, provide copies of the full report, field questions, and direct reporters to Martin County citizens for interviews.
What: Press Conference
When: 1pm, Monday September 30, 2019
Where: Front steps of Kentucky State Capitol Building, Frankfort, Kentucky
The problems with Martin County, Kentucky’s public water system are well-known. The system suffers from decades of severe neglect and mismanagement by county and state officials. Over the years, the infrastructure and distribution system has been allowed to get so bad that there are threats of critical failures at every point in the system.
While Martin County is one of the poorest counties in the state, it currently boasts the eighth highest average water bill out of the water districts regulated by the Public Service Commission. If the Martin County Water District were to receive the rate increase anticipated by water board members, Martin County would have the highest average water bill in the state.
The report concludes with several suggestions for local, state and federal officials, including:
- Prevent further rate increases for Martin District customers
- Direct funding from grants toward the most immediate needs of the Martin District – including fixing service and main water lines
- Appropriate funds in the 2020 state budget toward Martin County’s water infrastructure needs and assistance for low income water customers
- Establish forms of low-income assistance to support the most vulnerable customers in the Martin District
- Explore alternative rate structures that could alleviate the burden of high water bills for the most vulnerable customers
- Consider affordability when setting rates for public utilities