State regulators opened an investigation Tuesday to review how Kentucky’s water districts measure, record and report the amount of water they lose due to faulty infrastructure, saying the issue causes “higher rates for consumers” and could cause the financial collapse of utilities.
All water districts lose at least some of the water they produce through leaking or broken lines, faulty meters and other infrastructure problems. Regulators have set a goal for Kentucky water districts to lose less than 15 percent, but many lose more than 30 percent of the water they clean before it reaches customers.
That can create big problems. Every gallon of water a district produces costs some amount of money to treat and pump to customers. For water districts like the one in Martin County, which loses more than 70 percent of the water it produces, that amounts to a lot of wasted ratepayer money.
“The analogy that I always like to make is: Go to your local supermarket and walk in and look at all the stuff they have, and (imagine) every single day they take 70 percent of that, take it out to the parking lot, and set it on fire,” said Jimmy Don Kerr, chairman of the Martin County Water District Board. “That’s what we do every day.”