'It's bad': City of Benham on verge or losing water, cannot afford to fix lines

Published: Oct. 21, 2019 at 7:59 PM EDT
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Water issues continued to plague the city of Benham in Harlan County. During the weekend and into Monday, multiple line breaks flooded areas and caused water to be shut off.

"Right now it's bad," said Benham's Mayor, Howard White.

They since fixed the problem and have begun pumping from the river, but new problems have occurred.

"It doesn't matter who runs the water plant if Jesus Christ was up there. When that thing decided to blow, it blew. And there's only one thing to do, and that's fix it. And that's what we've been doing," White added.

The river water brought water pressure levels back up. The outdated piping dating back to the 1970s could not sustain the pressure, in turn causing multiple line breaks.

"You just gotta be patient, give these guys a chance to get this thing under control," he added.

White is notably frustrated, he has only a skeleton crew of workers who have been working around the clock. Additionally, the city does not have the funding to fix the breaks.

"We don't have the funds to pay for it. I'm telling you straight," White added.

The area's power board and the City of Cumberland have helped fix some of the issues, but White says it will take much more funding to keep the system from crumbling.

"That's all we're asking. I mean I hate to say this but I don't care anymore. Cumberland, Benham and Lynch we're like a third world city anymore," he said.

Due to the most recent breaks, water levels are once again low. Water had to be shut off from Walter Dick Park to Cumberland Elementary.

If a six-inch line breaks again, White says the whole city, and parts of Cumberland, will more than likely lose water.