Division of Water
Governor declares state of emergency for Magoffin County

Press Release Date:  Friday, October 10, 2008  
Contact Information:  Bill Caldwell 502-564-3410  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2008) – Gov. Steven L. Beshear today declared a water emergency for Magoffin County in southeastern Kentucky due to critically short water supplies and the lack of relief anticipated in the near future. In signing the declaration, Governor Beshear said conditions “endanger the public health and safety and threaten the public welfare of the citizens of Magoffin County.” He urged water users to stop all nonessential use of water and restrict its use to health and safety needs.

The emergency declaration is issued in the wake of precipitation levels that have resulted in a complete cessation of flow in the Licking River at Salyersville, the primary source of water supply for the Magoffin County Water District and the city of Salyersville. Both water systems are served by Salyersville Municipal Water. There is also significant uncertainty about the capacity of two backup wells to continue to produce an adequate supply of water to meet health and safety needs.

Declaration of a state of emergency by the governor authorizes the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) to take extraordinary measures to protect Magoffin County’s water supply during the emergency, if EEC determines those measures are warranted. For instance, EEC may allocate the available public water supply among water users and restrict the water withdrawal rights of entities that hold water withdrawal permits. It also enables the EEC to do some things more quickly than it could otherwise, such as modify existing water withdrawal permits.

Some of the actions the cabinet may take to stop nonessential water uses and to restrict essential usage include:

  • Encourage or mandate local officials and water system managers to implement the appropriate stage of their water shortage response plans, including urging them to draft local ordinances to restrict water usage.
  • Direct the modification or removal of unpermitted impoundments blocking flow to downstream users, such as those put into place for agricultural uses.
  • Order immediate purchase or rental of goods and services essential for protection of public health and safety or maintenance or restoration of essential public services. 

Some of the actions the cabinet can take to conserve available water resources, order conservation and allocate water resources include:

  • Reduce or modify amounts within water withdrawal permits for certain uses.
  • Restrict normally unregulated withdrawers.
  • Initiate discussions with the Corps of Engineers (COE) on appropriate use of COE reservoirs during the drought.