Governor declares water emergency for Western Kentucky town

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2022

Gov. Andy Beshear on Saturday declared a State of Emergency for the city of Marion, in Crittenden County, hours after receiving a request from city officials, due to a water shortage in the Western Kentucky community.

“This emergency has been building, although everyone hoped to avoid it,” Beshear told Kentucky Today.  “An earthen dam broke a little over a month ago and has led to some significant water shortages. The city had been trying to work with the county, and eventually reached out to the state late last night, requesting the state of emergency. This can free up some dollars and other help through Kentucky Emergency Management.”

Lake George, the primary reservoir for Marion’s residents and businesses needed to be drained because of a levee failure. That, coupled with limited rainfall and unseasonably warm weather, has now caused the water shortage to become critical.

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Hearing of the pending water shortage, the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management contacted local officials to help them with the process of requesting state assistance and an emergency declaration. State officials are expected to travel to Marion to discuss remedies with the city and to begin implementing a plan that will provide short- and long-term guidance to the city to ensure that families have access to water.

“We look forward to working with the city and working with the county,” the governor said, “to do the best we can to provide for the citizens, while we look for an ultimate solution.”

Additional cabinets and state agencies can also act with the state of emergency in place. The Energy and Environment Cabinet has been tasked with assisting the City of Marion and Crittenden County to stop all nonessential uses of water; and the Finance and Administration Cabinet has been directed to help with resource management and with procurement or contracts necessary to deal with the water shortage.

In addition, under the executive order, Kentucky’s Adjutant General is authorized to issue active-duty orders for the mobilization of such National Guard personnel and equipment as he may determine to protect life and safety, to continue essential public services and to prevent undue loss and suffering.

According to the 2020 Census, the City of Marion’s population is just over 2,900, while Crittenden County has around 9,000 residents.