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Watershed Association members have ideas for River Watershed Agency

Friday, May 1, 2009

CHAPEL HILL -- As a government agency proceeds toward development of a long-range water plan for the Duck River, a private conservation group elected new directors last weekend when several members aired views on what the agency should do.

Meanwhile, Duck River Watershed Association Executive Director Sherry Beard encouraged members and the public to use the Association as a conduit for reports to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation when they suspect activities that would pollute the Duck River.

"Very often, it's just something they were unaware of," Beard told the Association during its quarterly meeting at Henry Horton State Park on Saturday, when another member reported that anonymity was threatened by a bill in the Legislature to make public the names of people who report violations.

The Association was created last year as an advocacy group for the Duck River watershed which is where the government agency, the Duck River Watershed Development Agency is charged with the responsibility of protecting the quality and quantity of water in Marshall, Maury, Bedford, Coffee and Hickman counties.

The Agency has been receiving five cents for every 1,000 gallons of water sold in the five-county area by utilities that get their water from the Duck River. With other revenues from investments and other funding, the Agency's treasury is about $15 million.

"If they've got that kind of money, they should use it for water infrastructure so there's no water loss," Association member Rick Brandon said.

More efficient utilities are needed, he said.

Noting previous studied by the Agency on water supplies compared to the population's needs, Association member Ed Penrod commented, "They've said they'd have water for 50 years and ... in 2007 they were low on water...

"People say it was the worst drought, but that's not to say it's the last drought," said Penrod, who endorses a major civil engineering project to assure water supplies.

It's to draft water from the Tennessee River and pump it through pipes back up into the Duck River Watershed.

"Even the Romans were doing it," Penrod said. "And Dickson County has gone to the Cumberland River... so pumping water through two counties is not new. If we want more water, we'll have to go where it is... and it'll take years to get a plan in place."

Marjorie Collier, a newly elected member of the Association's board of directors, was critical of the government Agency.

"What they're trying to do is better done by other agencies," she said.

As for what the Agency should do with the money collected from water customers, Collier said it should be returned to the utility customers.

Also elected to the Association's board on Saturday were Doyle Totty and Mike Goodpasture.

The next meeting of the Association's Board is scheduled to be on May 14. A specific time and location are to be announced, but the group is expected to be meeting in Centerville.

Other river related activities:

* The next meeting of the Duck River Watershed Agency, the government group, is scheduled for July 23 at Henry Horton State Park. Board meetings typically start at 6 p.m., but workshops and dinners frequently start at 5 p.m. in the restaurant at Henry Horton State Park.

* The 3rd Annual Duck River Member-Guest Float, sponsored by the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association is set for June 6. Participants are to meet at Henry Horton State Park at 9 a.m. The float is from Lillards Mill to Hardison Hill. For more information call Frank Fly at (615) 896-3600.

* At least two Duck River Clean Ups are scheduled for June 27. One starts at 8 a.m. at Henry Horton State Park. The other starts at 7:30 a.m. in Shelbyville at the park behind the Shelbyville Power, Water and Sewerage System buildings in downtown Shelbyville.