Local News

Potential Sewer Collapse Closes E. Broadway Lanes

City officials have closed all but four lanes along a stretch of East Broadway between Brent and Campbell Streets because of the potential threat of an underground sewer collapse.   Metropolitan Sewer District employees found damage to the sewer structure during some routine maintenance today.  They suspect it may have been caused by last week’s severe flooding.   The section of sewer under investigation is made up of bricks that are nearly 130-years-old.  Parts of the city’s sewer system date back to before the Civil War.

See this map of affected area.

Environment In-Depth News Local News

Fort Knox Area Headed for Huge Growth

”Right now we are heading north and we are on the eastern boundary of the city limits of Elizabethtown because I wanted to show you another condominium development here….”

Elizabethtown planner Ed Poppe  drives into one of many subdivisions underway in this community just 45 miles south of Louisville.

“2007 was the highest dollar volume construction year we had had.  For a city of our size we were over70 million dollars in construction.  We’re over 50 million in construction this year,” says Poppe.

Poppe says that’s because nearby Fort Knox is about to swell with newcomers.  It’s part of the U.S. Army’s Base Realignment and Closure project, or BRAC as the locals call it here.  And Elizabethtown—the region’s shopping center and Fort Knox neighbor—could be the popular choice for the thousands of military and civilians who choose to relocate from Washington D.C., St. Louis, and Indianapolis.  The influx is expected to be so great that the Department of Defense has set up a new organization called One Knox to help the communities prepare for growth.  The organization’s Web site reads like a travel brochure for the area but also lists updates about BRAC activities at the base. One Knox head Brad Richardson says the anticipated 14,000 new arrivals may not sound like much.

“But if you compare it on a percentage basis with Jefferson County, it would mean that you would be getting between 100 and 120,000 new people in the next two and half years.  So if you think about what that will do to road systems, water, sewer, there’s the impact,” Richardson says.

Richardson says the region needs a huge chunk of state money to absorb that impact.

“Luckily, even in a deficit budget situation, we got $100 million dollars appropriated.  $50 million for transportation, $50 million for infrastructure development, which will probably include education,” says Richardson.

That means new and expanded schools for the anticipated thousands of children moving in.  It’s not certain yet exactly how many people will decide to relocate, but water district manager James Jeffries says they know for sure that drinking water resources will be squeezed.  He says they can only pull so much from the Nolin River.  And they’ve had to look northward for help.

“We’ve chosen Louisville water as that source.  They have excess capacity.  They’re growing to the south.  So that looks like it is the logical source,” Jeffries says.

Jeffries says that while he’s confident they’ve got a handle on meeting drinking water needs, the county isn’t so prepared when it comes to handling sewage.  Septic tanks are the treatment method of choice outside city boundaries.  And Jeffries says the lines between a home and its tank can sometimes rupture.  And if that happens, groundwater and ultimately drinking water could be harmed.

“The county will see the need to get into the sewer collection business as part of the continued development of the county.  We can’t continue to have one acre lots with .2 acres taken up in lateral lines time and time again.  I think we’ll have to be smarter than that,” says Jeffries.James Jeffries with the Hardin County Water District #2 shows where drinking water needs will be greatest.

There could be other threats to water quality with so many more paved surfaces—which increase storm water run-off into rivers and streams.  But Elizabethtown residents are more excited than concerned about so much growth.  Joanie and Johnny Melloan run a local real estate company.  They were among several sponsors of a weekend tour for military members thinking of relocating.  They’re hoping that eventually that Elizabethtown will charm some of the visitors into buying one of their homes for sale.  But Johnny Melloan says the economic boost these newcomers bring won’t be limited to real estate.  Their salaries will pump money into local businesses.  Their children will bring new resources for schools.

“So this is a very big deal for this community.  The impact will be felt throughout the region,” say Melloan.

The Melloans helped sponsor a tour for potential BRAC-related relocating military members.

If that impact will be felt in a bustling economy, it will also be felt on busier roads.  On once wooded lands converted to condos. And on the Dixie Highway, where the growing string of shopping malls connects Radcliff and Elizabethtown.

Local News

MSD Unveils $843M Sewer Overhaul to Protect Water Quality

Metropolitan Sewer District officials have unveiled a plan to overhaul the county’s aging sewer system.  The court-ordered plan is designed to reduce overflows of untreated sewage into local waterways.  The plan’s 64 different projects will update pipes in some places.  In other places, projects will create more storage tanks to keep waste water until the treatment plant can handle it.  MSD director Bud Schardein says that some areas outside the Watterson Expressway will be getting completely new systems.

“A lot of those pipes date back to just after World War 2. So they’re showing their age.  They’re in areas with high groundwater areas, they’re in areas where folks have put in illicit connections to get rid of groundwater,” Schardein says.

And that means back ups and overflows have been a problem.  The entire suite of projects will take well over a decade and cost more than $800 million dollars.  That money will come from a gradual doubling of sewer rates over the next 16 years.  The public will have the opportunity to comment on the plan before it goes to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.