Dear Mister Water Guru

As you may know, the Mayors of Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Knox and Union counties recently joined together to form the East Tennessee Water Coalition. The Coalition was created to address public water service issues & overcome challenges related to droughts and inadequate water supplies.

Last week, the Coalition met with Congressman Zack Wamp, who said: “A regional approach is the only approach.”

Now, I assume we weren’t invited to this party because the Clinch River doesn’t enter our boundaries. For the record, I do think Clinch is close enough to make the exclusion downright unneighborly. We should have at least been invited to attend the meetings so Knox Mayor Mike Ragsdale could buy us all lunch with his p-card.)

Since that’s not the case and we still have hundreds of unserved folks in Hawkins County, I am wondering: has our our county or city mayor called you to inquire about getting a leg-up on this coordinated planning stuff… and possibly forming their own coalition? I mean if they can’t spell coalition that shouldn’t stop them… I am sure it would be okay if they wanted to just call it the Big Ol’ Water Group.

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One thought on “Dear Mister Water Guru

  1. I’ll step out on a limb here and assume this is directed at me…if I’m wrong, just delete it….
    1. I wasn’t invited. However, last year I was approached by certain individuals about developing a new water source for the aforementioned areas. I offered my services. Maybe that was the incentive for this. “If you don’t do it, we have someone who will…” I might have been used but if it gets safe drinking water to the community…whatever it takes.
    2. The last approach towards a Hawkins County Regional Water entity was from Heiskell Winstead in around early 2002. A special bill was being presented to the State Legislature to establish this entity and he wanted to know about support from the water entities in the county. We were all present at the courthouse. Everyone was supportive at the meeting. Nothing came of it. I later heard that it appears that “someone” made some contacts and shut it down. Fingers have been pointed but no one has acknowledged responsibility.
    3. Our new project is called the “Athowominee Regional Water Plant”. Hopefully, funding will be approved within the next couple months and we can proceed with this project. Water infrastructure costs money and it is not getting any cheaper. But we will need more in the future. (Watch Atlanta this summer/fall.)
    4. The invite to you and anyone else to visit is still open. I’m trying to read my crystal ball for the future but it gets cloudy every now and then. Need inputs from anyone and everyone.
    5. The “Crossroads Community” is in a bad situation. One water entity has decided that “it is too much for us to handle right now”, another water entity would need financial assistance (grants) to serve and the third entity has been chopped off at the knees and cannot physically serve.
    6. My opinion: About 40% of the land area of Hawkins County is not served by public water. There are significant (but not unsurmountable) funding, terrain, hydraulic, population density and water source issues. There is nothing that says the community cannot come together, make a plan and present it. But it takes facts, figures, documentation and a clear consise understanding of the issues. Emotions and politics need to stay clear. What we do today will serve our grandchildren’s children. Are we willing to pay the price?

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