Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hydrant fills rural water need

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{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=55|imageid=346|displayname=0|float=left}The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Office has very strict regulations on water use, Leauber said. But in cases, like a construction project, we enter into a contract with the company so they can access the hydrant and pay for the water.


The same is being done in Statesville, where Patton received a $500 donation from the Statesville fce club, the Statesville Grange and the Watertown Woodmen of the World Lodge 1025. Each club contributed $167.


Patton said the $500 was a deposit required by the Water and Wastewater Authority to release the proper equipment needed to tap onto the hydrant. Five individuals are trained to use the hydrant, including Pattons husband, Willie, and local resident Charlie Turner.


Willie Patton noted his family didnt have running water until he turned 21 and married Sara. Turner said the majority of residents in the Statesville area pump their water from a small spring across the street from the fire hydrant.


People in rural areas learn to conserve water from day one, Leauber said.


Few homes have access to public water in the rural areas of Wilson County, and in some cases, such as areas along the Wilson- DeKalb County line, the Authority purchases water from the DeKalb Utility District to serve what few homes are serviced by public lines.


But with the new meter in Statesville, Patton said anyone who does not have access to public water in Wilson County has the right to pump water from the hydrant. The minimum is 2,000 gallons for $30.03 and the maximum is a whopping 100,000 gallons for $856.36.


It would take an individual about 20 minutes to get 2,000 gallons of water from the hydrant as Leauber said it pumps about 100 gallons per minute. Leauber said the average home uses 5,000 gallons a month in Wilson County. He said in rural areas it can be as low as 2,000 gallons a month.


He said in areas serviced by the authority, Wilson County uses approximately 1 million gallons of water per day.


Anyone wishing to use the hydrant must pay a one-time fee of $20 to recoup the costs of the three civic clubs donating the $500 deposit. Also, Patton said there is a strict set of guidelines that individuals must meet to get water from the hydrant.


Patton said use of the hydrant is not for families that are already served by the Water and Wastewater Authority, but are for those who use well water, spring water or pump water from other natural sources.


As long as they follow the guidelines and dont have access to public water, this is for them, Patton said.


Patton noted the contract with the authority is in her name and the individuals trained to use the hydrant are responsible for collecting payment when a person extracts water from the hydrant. All payments are due at the time of pumping and she in turn, pays the authority.


She also said they are working on a regular schedule for pumping, which Patton indicated would most likely be in the evenings and on Saturdays.


Patton said since she was elected, she has been trying to bring safe and sanitary drinking water access to the people in her district and other rural areas of Wilson County. She said the hydrant in Statesville is open to everyone in Wilson County who doesnt have access to public water.


We have all these other homes that I want to get water to, weve just been trying to get them safe water, Patton said.


In addition to the hydrant, Patton and Leauber said they are hoping and praying for a Community Development Block Program Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to build water lines in rural areas.


Leauber said the grant is for $500,000 and if awarded, the authority would have to match that amount for a total of $1 million to bring water to rural residents. However, that amount wont go very far, as he said it would only build 6 miles of water line.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=55|imageid=347|displayname=0|float=right}


People dont realize how expensive it is to put water lines in the ground, Leauber said. Its not like you can build it and let it go.


He said there are very strict environmental requirements to meet when constructing water lines and also noted the price would go up if the lines have to go into rocky and difficult terrain.


Leauber pointed out Wilson County has a lot of rock and its likely the price would exceed $1 million. As part of the grant application, Patton and Leauber said 70 homes around Statesville had their water tested and the grant also takes into consideration income, unemployment rates and more.


When the water of those 70 homes was tested, Laueber said there were many that had unsanitary water supplies. Patton added there were harmful bacteria in a lot of the water supplies of those 70 homes.


About one-third of those homes had traces of E. Coli in their water, Patton said.


However, Patton noted the income and unemployment criteria are based on all of Wilson County, not just the rural areas that would benefit most from the grant. She said the county would find out in October or November whether they are awarded the grant.


If awarded, Leauber said the authority has to put up the $500,000 to match or the county wont get any of the money. He said the authority would have to take on debt in order to match the grant, but said they are already doing that in a larger effort to supply water to more county citizens.


We dont get county tax revenues, so all of our money comes directly from water bills and meter use, Leauber said. Its not that we dont want to run water out here, we do, but the cost is very high.


Leauber, Patton and many in rural areas of Wilson County are hoping the grant comes through and the hydrant meter will at least allow rural citizens to have access to safe drinking water for the time being.


For more information about the Statesville hydrant or if you are a rural resident of Wilson County without access to public water, you may contact Patton at 286-2609 or 428-8593 to inquire about pumping water from the hydrant.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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