P3 Kentucky Poll: Broadband, Water Infrastructure Need Big Help

Kentucky’s infrastructure is ailing, according to a recent poll of P3 Kentucky readers.

The monthly P3KY I-Poll found that more than 70 percent of those who responded believe the state’s overall infrastructure – including roads, bridges, water systems, utilities and broadband – deserve a grade of “C” or below. Only 9 percent of respondents gave the state’s infrastructure an “A,” and nearly one-third of those taking the poll said it warrants a “D” or “F.”

Among P3 Kentucky readers, waterworks needs rated highly. When asked about the greatest local infrastructure need, more than half of the respondents indicated water, sewer or a combination of the two. Improved broadband was second, with about 1 in 5 respondents choosing it.

The P3 Kentucky polls reinforce the findings of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s recent report, A Citizen’s Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure. The report noted that $6.2 billion in drinking water and $6.24 billion in wastewater investments will be needed over the next 20 years. The state has 441 public water systems – many that serve small numbers of customers.

The Chamber report, citing the state’s 2015 Kentucky Water Management Plan, noted that the average age of water treatment plants in the state is 37 years. Planned and needed drinking water improvements include:

  • Eight new water treatment plants in the next decade.
  • 2,407 miles of line extensions in the decade.
  • 1,260 miles of line rehabilitation (6,371 miles of water lines are 51-70 years old and 3,434 miles are older than 70 years).
  • 416 miles of transmission over the next decade.

According to Louisville Water Co., the state’s largest water system, its engineers develop a 20-year plan to prioritize work. Over the next 20 years, Louisville Water is projecting to spend $625 million to maintain its more than 4,200 miles of water main. Water mains range in size from six inches in diameter to more than five feet, and some are over a century old.

LWC engineers also work with several smaller utilities to help them identify needs and set priorities for maintaining and expanding their drinking water systems.

In releasing its infrastructure report, Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson noted that community infrastructure is important to the state’s economic vitality.

“Kentucky must realize our global competitors are building infrastructure at an impressive rate. To take full advantage of the state’s favorable geographic location and improve the ability of Kentucky companies to compete, we must place a greater emphasis on our state’s infrastructure. Our focus must be a comprehensive approach including energy, water, sewer, broadband and transportation systems. The Chamber urges the state to utilize P3s and other innovative solutions in order to move Kentucky forward.”

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