May 5, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald

May is Kentucky Water Awareness Month. The approaching year 2000 has raised many questions, including how major utilities like gas, electricity and especially water, will be affected.

Robert Flashman, family resource management specialist for the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, said the most reliable and unbiased sources of information are saying major urban areas won't be affected by Y2K woes. It's the smaller, rural areas that will experience problems, though those problems don't appear to threaten life or property. Some have compared the expected inconvenience to a snow storm, where it is possible to have temporary utility loss.

In central Kentucky, the Kentucky-American Water Company serves nearly 300,000 customers. They have worked hard to make sure Y2K doesn't interrupt water distribution to their large service area. A Year 2000 action team is in place with an onsite consultant.

"We have a good program (to handle Y2K)," Jim Grover, Y2K consultant for KAWC, said. "Most of our equipment has been tested and repaired. There are few small computers, are not used in critical applications, with minor problems, but they will be in compliance by June or July 99."

Grover said KAWC will be able to control intake, distribution and safety when the year

2000 rolls around. He added that the system can be turned to manual mode if necessary, much the same way it is when there is a power outage.

"The (Y2K) scare could hurt us more than the year 2000 ever will," Grover said. "The panic effect could cause people to stockpile gas, food, water, etc."

The American Red Cross recommends keeping a few extra gallons of drinking water around the house all the time, not just in preparation for the Millennium. Grover agrees that this is just common sense.

The only way to combat the misconceptions about Y2K is education.

"Read reliable sources," Grover emphasized. "Call companies you're worried about; ask them if they have a Y2K plan. I can't think of any critical service companies that don't have a plan. It should be implemented by mid-1999 and then fine tuned the rest of the year."

You can learn more about KAWC's Y2K plan by visiting their web site at http://www.kawc.com/about.

Flashman said another good Y2K source is the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. Contact them toll-free at 1-888-USA-4-Y2K. You can find out the latest information on how Y2K may, or may not, affect government services, financial institutions, and household appliances. The above number also has pre-recorded messages about how the year 2000 could affect personal computers, telephones, and other products. Also, information specialists are available to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

The main points Flashman and Grover are trying to get across are: the public should educate themselves; ask questions; not believe everything they hear and calmly and responsibly approach the Y2K issue.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Heald (606) 257-9764
Sources: Jim Grover (606) 335-3415, Robert Flashman (606) 257-7753