First These Kentuckians Couldn't Drink The Water. Now They Can't Afford It

Nov 1, 2019

Jasper Davis stoops to tilt a plastic bottle under a drip of water that's trickling from a crack in the mountainside.

"Tastes better than what the city water does," he says. "Way better."

The spring is innocuous, a mere dribble emerging from a cliff face that was cut out to make room for a four-lane highway. But there's evidence of frequent visitors. A small footbridge has been placed over the muddy ground, and some enterprising soul shoved a rubber tube into the mountain to make filling jugs easier.

"You just stick your jug under there and just catch the water as it comes out, one jug at a time," Davis says.

This has become routine for some in Martin County, a rural, mountainous community on Kentucky's border with West Virginia. The area has made news for decades for its notoriously dirty water supply. But now, efforts to fix that have led to another crisis: Many are unable to afford their water bills.

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