On Tuesday, the Berea City Council adopted a resolution for water conservation and drought policies, taking a needed step to gain federal approval for the expansion of Owsley Fork Dam. Here’s a summary of facts presented by analysts from Belle Engineering:
• Berea has 800 million gallons of water in its four reservoirs, Owsley Fork, Kale Lake, B-Lake, and Cowbell Hollow.
• 3 million gallons of water per day is currently needed serve Berea Municipal Utilities customers in the region, including residential, commercial and industrial clients.
• With population growth, 5 million gallons of water per day will be needed by 2055.
• The adopted conservation plan aims to reduce water consumption by 1 million gallons per day.
• Conservation measures in the plan include public education, flattening of water rates to discourage excessive waste and revising city building codes to incentivize the installation of water saving devices in structures. Plans for modifying rates during periods of severe drought are also included, along with policies to monitor and repair water leaks in the distribution system.
• Meanwhile, the city hopes to expand Owsley Fork Dam 50 percent by raising the wall by six feet. The change would add 40 acres to the 150-acre surface area, allowing the reservoir to hold approximately one billion gallons of water.
• The expansion plan would provide 4 million gallons of water per day, meeting the city’s water needs for the next half century.
• Berea’s share of the $12 million dam expansion would be $3.7 million.
• Other options for getting more water include: Purchasing water from the City of Richmond, $19 million; Building a pipeline to pump water from the Kentucky River, $14 million; Reusing reclaimed water, $9 million.
So far city officials have been encouraged by progress in the application process, however, the Owsley Fork Dam rehabilitation plan is subject to final approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.