Chapel Hill buying water from county

Friday, August 3, 2007

Because of a lack of water in Chapel Hill's town well and cave spring, the municipality is buying water for its customers from the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, town and county leaders said this week.

"It's a temporary situation," Chapel Hill Mayor Carl Cooper said Tuesday morning, a week after Tony Bolton, assistant superintendent of the county utility, had his crews open two valves so water could flow through a connection with the town.

Drought is the reason, according to the mayor who described what's happened to the town's water resources as "the same thing that's happened to every spring in Tennessee, lack of water, but the spring is fine.

"We've had a big drain of water on one football field, but we're still in good shape," Cooper said.

The town hasn't asked residents to conserve water, he said.

Marshall County Public Utilities Superintendent Tommy Whaley used to work for Chapel Hill utilities and said water restrictions had been imposed years ago but since then, bigger pipes have been installed.

In mid-December, Chapel Hill Town Administrator Mike Hatten announced machinery at the town's new water source was being tested and soon thereafter Chapel Hill would comply with a state recommendation that the town have a second water source.

Chapel Hill's population is about 1,500. It has approximately 600 water taps and is one of only two municipalities in Marshall County that purifies its own water.

Lewisburg is the source of water for the county's system of pipes, and Mayor Bob Phillips said, "In times of drought, we've always sold [water] to our neighbors. We want to be good neighbors."

Cooper said the town's purchase of water from the county wouldn't change water rates.

And it's been so long since Chapel Hill had a water rate hike that Cooper can't remember the last time water rates went up.

Whaley said yesterday the county was still selling water to Chapel Hill, and he didn't really have any idea on how long this might last, but he said he believed he's still have plenty of water.

Lewisburg's water is from the Duck River. Under federal regulations established when the Normandy Dam was built, the river is to have adequate flow in dry months and flood control during periods of heavy rains. Those were among the basic reasons for TVA dams.

"We'll be glad to supply the town with water as long as they need it," Whaley said. "We're just glad to be able to help them out.

"They've not hurt us any," the county water superintendent said.

It was just before lunch on Tuesday last week when the town called and two valves were opened, he said.

"We have three connections" with Chapel Hill, Whaley continued. "We're supplying from two of the three. We've been in contact with the Lewisburg water plant and they seem to have plenty of water themselves."

And while the county is selling water to Chapel ill, Whaley said, "There's not a lot a large profit margin in it. It's just an assistance to the town."

Bolton said Chapel Hill is paying $3.49 per 1,000 gallons.

Valves with meters that were opened are the west master meter connection on old Highway 99 near Daughrity Road and the north meter on Nashville Highway just north of Crutcher Road.

About 70-75 gallons a minute are flowing through both meters, "so we're selling 70,000 to 90,000 gallons a day supplementing their well," Bolton said.

The county utility board meets next on Aug. 21. Chapel Hill's planning commission meets Monday night. The town's Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets one week later.