Damages to a county road prompted Pike Judge-Executive Ray Jones to again blast Mountain Water District and declare that the district is a “catastrophe waiting to happen.”
The court’s concerns regarding MWD are well-documented and Jones has been on record saying that the entire district board will be replaced prior to the current fiscal court’s term ending, something he echoed again during Tuesday’s meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court.
“All their commissioners will be changed before the end of this court’s term and we’re going to put people on there who have the background and experience to straighten it out,” he said. “Some people want say it’s UMG (Utility Management Group), UMG, UMG, but UMG will never be back in control of MWD.
“I want to make that abundantly clear,” Jones added.
Jones said UMG has been “vilified” over the years. If the district had professional manage, Jones said, the county would not have an issue like the one it’s currently facing with a slide located on Yellow Hill. Dist. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Robertson said a slide has damaged a county road, as well as created an inconvenience to the residents that live around the area.
“We’ve got a place on Yellow Hill that’s been damaged for little over a year and it’s got our county road really fallen out,” Robertson said. “The hill kind of slid down on this lady’s property, but we’ve got two more residents that live up there that have to try to maneuver around the slide just to get in their driveways.
“Something has to be done for those people,” he added.
According to Robertson, MWD has taken responsibility for the slide, as it was caused due to a water line leak.
Jones said the incident is unfair to the property owner and alluded to possible litigation, as the court has instructed the County Attorney to look into the possibility, if the issue isn’t handled imminently and the road isn’t fixed, because, as Robertson mentioned, it is affecting other property owners.
“There’s been $94 million invested in Mountain Water District’s infrastructure over the years,” Jones said. “Some of that infrastructure is decades old, some of it is nearing 50 years old.
Jones’ criticism of Mountain Water continued, and focused on problems with the district’s aging infrastructure.
“They’ve only got around $170,000 set aside to replace this and it is woefully inadequate reserves to repair and keep up this water system,” he added.
Jones said it’s impossible to look to the future without guaranteeing the future of the water system that provides “virtually the mass majority” of the people living in the county their water.
“When you’re only looking at those minimal reserves to replace aging infrastructure,” Jones said. “It’s a Martin County water catastrophe waiting to happen and if something’s not done, then it will make the Martin County situation pale in comparison.”