SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (August 31, 2021) — The City of Somerset has received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to upgrade equipment at two wastewater treatment facilities.
The EDA grant will aid significantly in the overall project cost of $7.5 million to improve the Pitman Creek and Sinking Creek wastewater treatment plants. In addition to the grant, the city will take advantage of low-interest loans from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to fund the project.
Upgrades include a new sludge dewatering facility, a new grit removal system and a septage receiving station at Pitman Creek, as well as the installation of permanent inflow/infiltration detection equipment at Sinking Creek.
Not only will the project have a significant economic impact in Somerset and surrounding communities — it is expected to help create 379 jobs, retain 580 jobs and generate $179 million in private investment – but it is necessary to comply with a 2018 Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet order requiring the city to correct numerous wastewater treatment violations. These citations, dating as far back as 2016, went unanswered during the previous administration.
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said he is grateful to be moving this project forward, as providing city residents and businesses with sufficient infrastructure should always take precedence.
“I am so pleased the EDA chose to support this essential project that will enable the city to meet the future needs of our residential, commercial and industrial customers,” Keck said. “These are issues that quite frankly should have been addressed years ago and became a top priority when I took office. We must ensure we have adequate systems in place not only for today but for the growth we are working so hard to achieve.”
In the last two years, several new industries, including a 30-acre indoor farm and bourbon distillery, have committed to construct new facilities in Somerset, and work is underway to attract new commercial and industrial prospects to a new commerce park in eastern Pulaski County. The facility upgrades will allow the city to adequately treat wastewater for existing customers and future customers while remaining in compliance with EPA guidelines.
This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.
Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority President and CEO Chris Girdler said the community’s industrial recruitment efforts and overall quality of life will be greatly enhanced by this project.
“Mayor Keck and his team have aggressively pursued state and federal funding to ensure projects like this get across the finish line, and I’m thrilled the EDA saw the need in supporting this important project,” Girdler said. “The residents and businesses in Somerset, Pulaski County and the entire Lake Cumberland region will greatly benefit from Mayor Keck’s bold and growth-oriented leadership.”