Grant sought for those with bad wells

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lewisburg's water board is recommending city councilmen authorize a grant application to fund extension of a pipeline to Craig Moore Road residents whose well water became unusable this summer.

Nine dwellings' water source went bad for undetermined reasons. A state geologist said he believes the source is the city's old landfill leaking soiled water. Some residents suspect road construction blasting shifted rock formations.

State law requires utilities to be self supporting, but a state grant is to be sought knowing that funding from the utilities' resources would spread the cost among utility customers who won't personally benefit, but would be underwriting the project through rate payments.

"This job's cost is somewhere less than $100,000," Utility Superintendent Kenneth Carr said after this month's meeting of the Lewisburg Water and Wastewater Board of Directors. "That is, unless the scope is more than what we think now."

It's not a complicated project. A water main paralleling Mooresville Pike (State Route 373) would be tapped and a pipe would be extended north and parallel to Craig Moore Road. It is, however, unclear exactly how far north the pipe should go.

"My gut feeling is that it will be a 2,400-foot-long pipeline," Carr said.

Complicating an early cost estimate is a typical problem in Marshall County. Rock is not far under the topsoil.

And since the residents complained, some of the wells' water has cleared up.

That's resulted in a moment when utility leaders could only shake their heads and grin since there is already a small service line installed years ago by a few residents of the other side of Craig Moore Road, a line that could have been bigger, had more neighbors signed onto the project. Several did not, saying their wells were good.

Now, employees of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will draw water samples from the wells and it will be tested by an independent laboratory, according to Edward Potts, a member of the water utility board.

Carr identified the independent lab as Environmental Sciences of Mt. Juliet.

The Water and Wastewater Board met Thursday afternoon when it unanimously voted to forward a recommendation to the city council. Greg Davenport, the city's consulting engineer, was to be at department offices on Monday to draft specifications for the water line so a grant application could be sent to TDEC shortly after the council voted.

Funding for the grant, if approved, "would come from the state fund that exists to clean up old landfill sites," Carr said. "They only have $300,000 in the fund and that haven't spent from that fund in the past two years."

There was a brief discussion among water board members Thursday about whether a special called meeting of the council would be needed to proceed as quickly as possible. The council's next regularly scheduled meeting is 6 p.m. on Sept. 13. The council must approve the application because it deals with spending. The utility controls all other aspects of its operation except spending and setting rates.

Potts asked utility board Chairman Hershel Davis "How does the council feel about this?" Davis, who's also a councilman, replied, "I think they'll go along with it."

Potts endorsed council action as soon as possible.

"It would be good if we could keep pushing this," Potts said.

Meanwhile, Carr reported construction of new facilities at the city's sewage treatment plant has begun. Two contractors have men and equipment at the site near the old treatment plant next to the city-owned animal shelter. One is building the holding tank. The other is changing much of the treatment system and doubling the plant's capacity.

The $13 million project is to be done by the end of 2012.