A project to extend water lines to 700 households without potable water has begun in Marshall County.

First district commissioner Justin Lamb said about $77,000 was approved in May 2019, with funds appropriated. The extensions have begun from U.S. 402 down Slickback Road until Dowdy Cemetery Road.

Lamb said when he initially ran for commissioner, the project was a key part of his campaign platform.

“Most of these people are still on well water and have been for a number of years, so water access has been a big issue out there,” the commissioner said.

“It takes small steps to get there because of so much land area. … It’s a lot of farmland, and hard to justify running water lines for miles to meet five or six households.”

“But we’re in the 21st century and people need potable water. It’s more of a moral obligation since they pay just as much in taxes.”

The project is being completed by Jonathan Creek Water District. District Chairman Jeff O’Bryan said it’s a much-needed project, but a “hard road.”

“Water line extensions are a very simple project, but it can take six months to a year through proper channels for engineering,” the chairman said.

“I’d love to supply everyone with water, but money can’t always go far. Seventy-five% of the time we may get a petition, people want water, then we spend a year earning to make this happen.”

O’Bryan said it’s a $700 fee and $70 deposit to install a water meter.

“If we’re lucky, maybe half of those people will take it. That sets them for life, but barely covers our material; we don’t really make money on that,” he said.

Jeanne Lovett, 60, who lives on Slickback Road, said the issue is one residents have inquired about for “a long time.”

“Many of us have good wells, but many of my neighbors also don’t and have been purchasing water for consumption for years now,” Lovett said. “So we’re thankful water is finally coming here.”