Businessmen monitor water deregulation

Friday, May 20, 2011

In an age when climate change is part of the national discussion and Marshall County residents are acutely aware of drought conditions, two businessmen are monitoring local leaders' debate on lifting a prohibition on a household water supply system.

Maury County prohibits new homes' reliance on springs and Marshall County won't let builders install a cistern with a water filtration system to purify rain that's fallen on a roof and channeled to filters. Here, leaders are leaning toward permitting an historic system.

There was a time when water draining from a roof would be collected and stored in a container under a house. It was more than a water supply. Since water holds its temperature rather well, the basement cistern moderated summer heat and knocked off a winter chill.

Now, a similar application for water supply is being examined in Lewisburg.

Tommy Kent and Greg Paxon of Robertson Water Treatment install water purification systems and see enough opportunity in deregulation here to attend what might otherwise be a dull discussion on planning and land use zoning. County planning commissioners here have again discussed a system the businessmen might install, and given the conclusion of the commissioners' discussion Tuesday night, it seems clear the conversation will continue and might come to a conclusion late this spring or in early summer.

Noting the county regulation prohibiting a home's reliance on stormwater collection, Dr. Ray Wakefield, chairman of the county planning commission, commented during the panel's Tuesday meeting, "If we keep it, we ought to enforce it, or it's worthless to have it on the books."

Commissioner Don Ledford noted the system has worked well in the wide-open spaces of America's western states, and he asked, rhetorically, "How much water comes here in the clouds?"

A couple of months ago, Wakefield asked if the prohibition is to be lifted; should the county attempt to regulate it?

Kent was asked for his reaction to the discussion.

"There's got to be some codes," he replied. "If you start this, then you have to have periodic inspections."

Then, knowing that the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency delivers truckloads of potable water to residents whose wells have gone dry due to drought, Kent pointed out, "If you're buying it by the tank, it's already chlorinated."

He and Paxon install filters to adjust pH levels, remove invisible solids and make tap water taste better. Their systems also improve bathing and washing of clothes and dishes, according to their business literature.

County Zoning and Codes Director Don Nelson has a water storage tank and reports he's had no trouble relying on it even though he has city water service.

He does not expect an avalanche of builders asking about installation of pipes, filters and a cistern because they might be seen as a system for an expensive home. However, it would appear that there have been enough requests to justify presenting the question to planning commissioners. They, in turn, could make a recommendation to the county commission for a vote to change basic county codes to permit cisterns that might be popular in remote places.

Furthermore, Wakefield notes that the systems don't have to be restricted to home water supply systems. Various businesses might see some value here, including farmers.

If Nelson's next rewrite of the proposed code includes the phrase potable water, it could mean that the filters and purification system might include an ultraviolet light treatment of the water.

"All milk barns have it" for a dairyman's product, the veterinarian said.

Nelson's rewrite is to address such issues as well as concern those of mortgage bankers and other county leaders concerned about liability.

Also attending the meeting was Tommy Whaley, superintendent of the Marshall County Public Utility District, who said, "I'm interested in selling all the water I can."