County water board needs rights of way to extend its service

Friday, March 20, 2009
Rocky Bowden, chairman of the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, left, is seen with only four of nearly 30 county residents in the Caney Springs United Methodist Church about easements needed for a water pipeline to be built this year.

Signatures on water easement agreements were obtained Tuesday from about a quarter of the property owners along four roads where the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities plans to lay a seven-mile water main by this time next year.

Health-threatening bacteria and sulfur in well water are among the reasons up to 250 residents along Milltown, McLean, Reynolds and Wilson School roads as well as Anderson Lane want water service extended. Others have wells that went dry. All need a place for the pipeline.

"We're looking for utility rights of way on private property," MCBPU Chairman Rocky Bowden told more than two dozen area residents attending the utility's meeting that night in the Caney Springs United Methodist Church kitchen and fellowship room.

Utility Superintendent Tommy Whaley said, "Easements have to be signed before we can start construction" on the federally funded pipeline that could make water available in about a year to some of the people in the project area.

While the Community Development Block Grant is federal money, Lisa Cross, a community development specialist with the South Central Tennessee Community Development District office in Columbia, said a contract with the state should be finalized within three weeks.

Bids from private contractors looking for the job will probably be opened in about three months, said Cross, who's been assisting the county's water board.

It's all good news for Danny Ragsdale of Wilson School Road. A previous water line extension stopped just before it got to his property. He'd been to a meeting years ago about water line extensions. Now, he's more hopeful.

"It seems like things have changed for he better compared to years back," Ragsdale said.

"Like they said," he continued, paraphrasing statements from Bowden and Whaley; "'Things have changed...' From the sound of the meeting last night, they seem to have a better plan and are trying to do the best for the individuals."

That includes plans to "save people's trees when they dig the line, something that may not have been done in the past," Ragsdale said. "It turned out better than I was expecting when I went out there."

Edna Anderson lives on Derryberry Cemetery Road and owns property along reynolds Road where water service is to be available. When it is, Edna, her husband Randy and their four sons will move to a home they plan to build.

"I'm glad we're finally going to get water out there because the water we have there now is nasty," she said of the sulfur water that smells of rotten eggs.

Sulfur in water that become steam, or evaporates other ways becomes a threat to TVs, radios, computers and other equipment with electronic parts that can suffer corrosion by the sulfur in humidity.

But that's a minor problem to what's happened at Anderson's Reynolds Road property.

"Our well goes just about dry, so we don't have a lot and we have to ration water," she said. "I'm just glad they're finally going to get there" where her brother, Randy, already lives.

Another Reynolds Road resident, Hilda Hadley, got specifics on where the pipe would go when she looked at maps with the waterline is planned. She could see that the pipe is to be near her home.

"The length of the pipeline on each road was my concern," Hadley said. "Reynolds Road is a long road.

"We had some contention at an earlier meeting about who was going to get it and who would not," Hadley said. "I am very thankful to be able to get water after a year."

As a federally funded project, the pipeline had to be qualified under a set of standards showing that it's serving people who can't afford the service on their own.

"Thank the Lord I am low- to moderate income so I think I will get a tap for ninety-some dollars and they will run the pipe to my house because I'm close enough to the road to meet their guidelines," she said.

Wilson School Road resident Jerry Ayres might not sing up or water service, but he indicated he'd sign the utility right of way to help his neighbors.

"I'm not sure yet because I'm retired," Ayres said of his indecision, "but I think I'll sign the easement. My well is adequate for me, but I know some people who really need water.

There "was a good exchange of information" at the 2-1/2-hour meeting, according to Ben Smith of Hargrove Road. "The utility board and its representatives were responsive."

Smith and his wife apparently don't need water from the utility because of a spring, so they were concerned about their water source and its proximity to the planned water line.

"Our plan is to sign an easement," Smith said of himself and his wife, Debora. "We want to help our neighbors, but we do have a spring by the road and this morning Mr. (Tommy) Whaley was out looking at it to see how they could work with preserving the flow of the spring on our property.

"Based on what he said, I feel confident that he and the engineer can work it out," Smith said. "We'll come back and have the spring as a part of our agreement that we would sign. Unfortunately, we don't have a barn or other buildings that would be near the line that would help, but the spring does feed the ground water. We're on a well. We have used the spring for our cattle.

During the Tuesday night meeting, MCBPU's chairman made it clear that there's no requirement that residents near the waterline must sign-up for water service.

Judy Crowson, special projects coordinator for the county utility, said 63 or 64 easements must be signed, depending on the needs of the project. During the Tuesday meeting enough signatures for 15 easements were obtained. A sixteenth easement is anticipated this week because one man signed Tuesday night when his wife wasn't there. She's to sign later.

That, therefore, makes 15-16 easements of the 63-64 needed and Crowson said that Assistant Superintendent Tony Bolton "will be going out door to door and calling people and making arrangements to accommodate them. Some of the people live in Spring Hill and Columbia. They have property on Reynolds Road and would move back" when water service is available.

"One lives at Nolensville and owns property in Wilson School Road," Crowson said. "Others with property on the road that will get water are residents of Franklin and Nashville.

"Easements are a slow process," Crowson said. "We're working on them."

No other meeting is planned for this water project.

Meanwhile, Lewisburg Water and Wastewater Department has been planning to schedule an "Easement Signing Party" in Cornersville to obtain utility rights of ways along the Lynnville Highway toward the Giles County line to extend service from the Cornersville system bought by Lewisburg about two years ago.