According to the report, alternatives are needed to increase WMU's water supply by 2.0 million gallons per day (MGD) in the near future. The existing water treatment plant has a maximum design capacity of 5.0 MGD, but is permitted for 6.0 MGD under a special exemption granted by the Kentucky Division of Water.
WMU's average demand was 4.08 MGD in 2005, and this is expected to increase to 7.15 MGD by 2020, according to recent projections compiled by the Bluegrass Area Development District.
The first proposed alternative is connecting to the Bluegrass Water Supply Commission System. The total estimated cost would be $6,026,000 or $3.80 per 1,000 gallons.
The BWSC, a group of central Kentucky utilities that have joined together to look at regional water supply issues, would be the owning entity and sell water to each member utility at a uniform rate. WMU and the City of Winchester would have to maintain membership in BWSC in order to purchase supplemental water from them.
The advantage of this alternative, according to the report, is that WMU would have added redundancy of being connected to a regional water source in the case of a severe drought, local raw water contamination or major equipment failures.
Another advantage would be a shared cost by all the members, Azevedo said. "There's a shared cost and there's a negotiated cost for the water," he said.
The disadvantage would be that the BWSC is not in full control of the quality or future quantity of water it receives from Kentucky American Water. The BWSC will only own 5.0 MGD. If WMU wanted to purchase additional water, it would have to renegotiate ownership rights with KAW or find another source.
The second alternative involves purchasing supplemental water directly from KAW. The total cost estimate is $20 million or $5.71 per 1,000 gallons.
For this project, a 13.3-mile, 24-inch pipeline would need to be constructed to connect WMU's distribution system at the Lexington Road water tank to KAW's distribution system near the southern merger of Interstates 75 and 64.
The advantages of this alternative, the report said, are similar to the first alternative in that WMU would have redundancy and protection of its system. In addition to the same disadvantages as the BWSC alternative, WMU would be subject to rate increases as approved by the Public Service Commission if it purchased water from KAW.
Connecting to Greater Fleming Water is the third proposed alternative. The estimated total cost is $64.8 million or $9.10 per 1,000 gallons.
Greater Fleming County Regional Water Commission draws its water from wells in Lewis County and serves customers as far south as Fleming County, according to the report. In order for WMU to purchase water from Greater Fleming, a 44-mile, 24-inch transmission main would need to be constructed from the east side of WMU's service area to the south end of Greater Fleming's system near Flemingsburg. It would also involve a cooperative effort with Mount Sterling Water and Sewer System to finance the required capital improvements.
This alternative would have many of the same advantages as connecting with either BWSC or KAW, according to the report. The disadvantages are similar as well because WMU would not have direct control of water quality and would be vulnerable to rate increases.
Commissioner Shannon Cox expressed concern about WMU not having control over the water supply. "If you don't have control, you are at the mercy of somebody else," he said.
An additional disadvantage that the report cites is that WMU's existing system is weak on the east side, which would require additional improvements inside WMU's service area before the final connection could be made.
The last alternative is constructing a new water treatment plant to carry a capacity of 2.0 MGD. This alternative is estimated at $22.9 million total cost, or $3.38 per 1,000 gallons.