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City Asks For Public’s Help In Locating Illegal Sewer Connections

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Local workers have been busy repairing water main breaks caused by last month’s sub-freezing temperatures, including the major break on Main Street in Harrodsburg, which officials say have been exacerbated by homeowners illegally pumping stormwater into the sanitary sewer system. The city is asking for the public’s help in locating illegal connections.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

Mercer County has been lashed with heavy precipitation in the first two months of 2024, leading to a massive water line break on South Main Street on Jan. 20, which resulted in icy conditions on the road and a precautionary boil water advisory. At their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 12, the Harrodsburg City Commission asked property owners to check for prohibited connections to the city sewer.

“We have some prohibited connections to the city sewer. They are causing some issues,” said Commission Kerry Anness, who said some property owners may be unintentionally pumping stormwater into the sanitary sewer, which is prohibited by city ordinance. Anness said it overloads the system.

“They may not even know it,” Anness said.

He said some systems to remove stormwater from private residences, such as sump pumps, are connected to the city’s sewer system, which is illegal.

“We’re going to have to start enforcing this,” said Anness, who said the January snowstorm caused major problems for some residents. It’s possible the systems were connected to the sewer before the current owner purchased their home, Anness said, and he was seeking to inform the public.

One way the city can track illegal connections is to pump smoke through the system to look for leaks, which could fill homes with smoke if they’re tied on illegally.

“Some people know it and they have to get it fixed,” Commissioner Marvin “Bubby” Isham said.

Mayor Bob Williams said the amount of water coming into the wastewater treatment plant went from 1.3 million gallons a day to 5.4 million gallons a day during the January storm. Williams said that was reaching the plant’s capacity. If the plant goes beyond capacity, it could possibly leak into the Salt River, the mayor said.

“Then we run into EPA problems,” he said. “The illegal sump pumps have to be removed.”

Homeowners can pump stormwater into their yards or to the closest storm sewer collection basin.

“It does not need to go into the wastewater treatment system,” Williams said. He said the information was being presented for informational purposes.

The commissioners were asked how homeowners could find out if they’re illegally hooked into the sewer system.

“If we run smoke tests, you’re going to find it,: Mayor Williams said.

City Attorney Norrie Currens said violators would receive a letter from the city.

“You should be able to look around and find it,” Mayor Williams said. He also said the city would help homeowners find out if they’re connected illegally or not. The phone number for City Hall is 859-734-2383. The phone number for the Water Maintenance Department is 859-734-3042.

In connection with the recent weather, Commissioner Charlie Mattingly asked for the public’s help in finding any potholes the street department may have missed. If anyone wants to report a pothole, they can call the Street Department at 859-734-3787 or Commissioner Mattingly directly at 859-325-1288.

For more stories, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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