Firm to develop plan for Duck River

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CHAPEL HILL - The state-chartered agency responsible for protecting water quality and quantity in the Duck River watershed has decided to hire a consultant with headquarters in, Hyattsville, Md.

The engineers are to develop a water supply plan for the five counties served by the watershed agency board that met Thursday night last week at Henry Horton State Park, according to Doug Murphy, the agency's executive director.

O'Brien & Gere Engineers was selected on a recommendation from the Duck River Agency's Technical Advisory Committee, Murphy said. The committee includes leaders from utilities that draw water from the Duck River. Five companies responded to the agency's request for qualifications last fall.

"We're going to address 50-year needs with a 100-year scope," Murphy said of the water supply plan with particulars that are to come from discussions with the engineering firm.

A broad view of the scope of work anticipated could include development of a time-line of various actions that are required to meet the region's future water needs, Murphy said.

O'Brien & Gere mentioned a project cost ranging from $200,000 to $300,000, Murphy said, cautioning against conclusions about a final cost because the scope of work hasn't been defined.

Other engineering firms indicated costs that could reach $800,000, Murphy said. There were two semi-finalists in the hunt for the DRWA contract. They were AMEC, an international company with offices in Nashville, and CDM, also known as Camp Dresser & McGee Inc., another company working internationally with offices in Nashville.

Marshall, Maury, Hickman, Bedford and Coffee counties are served by the watershed agency which has in recent years persuaded the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to get TVA to change its water release schedule at Normandy Dam.

That was accomplished when drought conditions were obvious as Normandy Lake's level was dropping, thereby threatening Tullahoma and Manchester with a supply problem.

Murphy had begun discussions with O'Brien & Gere by noon Monday, but he's to turn to five other people for support, he said. The DRWA Board agreed Chairman Gene Crowell of Shelbyville, Vice Chairman Tommy Peebles of Maury County, and Technical Advisory Committee officers Scott Young of the Tullahoma Utility Board and David Crowell of Shelbyville Power, Water and Sewerage Service ought to be consulted.

Also Thursday night, the agency's board voted to increase funding to Columbia Power & Water Systems' continuing effort to renovate the old Columbia Dam.