$500,000 grant may bring water to 250

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nearly 250 Marshall County residents may get water service at home through a project starting next spring because Gov. Phil Bredesen has authorized a grant of $500,000 to the county's Board of Public Utilities.

It's in response to the second request for help to extend water service to residents along Milltown, McLean, Reynolds and Wilson School roads as well as Anderson Lane, according to Lisa Cross, a community development specialist with the South Central Tennessee Development District Office in Columbia.

The county's rural water utility received word of the grant this month.

"The decision was made by Gov. Phil Bredesen, but state lawmakers sent letters in support of the project," MCBPU Project Coordinator Judy Crowson said.

Bacteria that poses a threat to human health was found in 24 of 31 water samples taken from the homes of residents who complained of the water's appearance and odor, according to records at the water utility office. The test results were among various reasons justifying the grant.

"We do not drink this water at all," Reynolds Road resident Jeff Stein wrote in a public document maintained by the utility. "We are greatly dissatisfied with our current water source. It has a small and is brown in color."

Other comments like Stein's were written during a public hearing in the Marshall County Courthouse Annex on an. 15 when 33 people attended. Sulphur water frequently leaves deposits in faucets and around bathtub basins and residents complained they can not be removed with any cleaning product.

"It leaves a build up on the sink, toilet and bathtub and messes up the washing machine," according to Kayla Harper of Reynolds Road. "You can't drink it. It smells nasty. It smells like rotten eggs."

In its grant application, the utility stated that its proposed project will serve approximately 246 people, initially, of which 209 or 85 percent live in low to moderate income households.

The Marshall County Board of Public Utilities anticipates construction of a little more than seven miles of pipeline with the grant that requires a match. Other funding may be through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program.

Funding approved by the governor is through a Community Development Block Grant with the money coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Technically, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will forward the money through the South Central Tennessee Development District office in Columbia.

A project estimate of $1,525,000 was presented one year ago.

An award of the grant monies is anticipated in the spring, perhaps in March, according to the utility's project coordinator. "They may actually do a presentation sometime before that," Crowson said.

Most of the project is to dig a trench and install water mains, but service lines to homes will be installed if the residents are among those found to be of low and moderate income households.

One of the residents at the January meeting advocated this second grant request by saying, "I paid $4,000 to have a well drilled and it went dry so I pay the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency to bring water to a holding tank every two weeks."

Crowson said, "We are, of course, in competition with other counties for these. It appears that grants are getting harder to get, so we are very fortunate to get this grant."