Martin County Residents have put up with shoddy, unreliable and unsafe water service for years. Now, the Martin County Water District (MCWD) is asking to raise rates by 50 percent. The MCWD and the local leadership in Martin County have failed to address the often-waterless plight of the county residents and a demonstrated inability to manage and maintain the water system.
The community is facing a water emergency comparable to Flint, Michigan and other water systems across the country that have suffered from disinvestment and contamination. People frequently wake up without any water at all, or with extremely low pressure or boil-water advisories. We know that lower-income communities in urban and rural areas suffer disproportionately from unsafe and unaffordable water service. Martin County is one of the poorest counties in the country.
This issue brief details the history of the proposed rate hike for their failing water system, and why the MCWD is at fault. This water crisis has been building during decades of mismanagement, disinvestment and ignored maintenance problems. It has been further compromised by indifferent leadership that has downplayed the problems and health risk, and that has suggested that local problems are not unique -- implying that residents are unreasonable, alarmist or selfish for demanding reliable, safe water service.
Washington, D.C. and Kentucky must take decisive action. Residents should not be forced to pay more for bad service, and Kentucky should declare a state of emergency in Martin County over the failure of its water system, which is compromising water that 10,000 people need.
Read issue brief here.