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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, April 6, 2018

Signal Mountain citizens speak up on water quality




At a second public hearing on the proposed sale of the Signal Mountain water system, citizens voiced concerns over water quality and raised questions over rates and extra fees.

Residents who are urging the town to choose Walden’s Ridge Utility District directed questions to Tennessee American Water Company and WRUD after a brief presentation from each.

In response to the town’s request for proposals, WRUD is offering to buy the system for $3.6 million or manage it if the town selects that option. TAWC is offering $3.4 million to buy the system.

Signal Mountain resident Eugenia Allderdice raised a question Wednesday night about the levels of trihalomethanes in TAWC water and how often they do testing. TTHM is a byproduct of the chlorination process, and high levels pose serious health risks.

“I’m concerned about the TTHM levels. How often do you get closer to that upper limit? And how often do you check [the water]? We know TTHM could be carcinogenic,” Allderdice said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have anything like that in our water?”

TAWC said they test quarterly and that their reports are a yearly average.

WRUD’s water source is Hixson Utility District, which is aquifer water. In a recent report, Hixson Utility District had only 8.8 parts per billion of TTHM, while TAWC had 73 parts per billion – about eight times as much. Applicable law limits TTHM levels in drinking water to 80 parts per billion.

“Water quality affects every single one of us every day, from the water your grandchildren use to brush their teeth to what you use to make sweet tea. Why wouldn’t you choose water from an aquifer over filtered water from the river?” asked a Signal Mountain resident.

Other issues raised focused on rates and extra fees. TAWC, as stated in its proposal and at the public hearings, adds capital riders to customers’ statements, which are extra fees added onto each bill and passed onto residents.

At the hearing, Signal Mountain resident Melissa Cantrell asked why TAWC has not made infrastructure repairs as the current supplier of water to the town.

“We’re paying you monthly riders. Have you done anything within Signal Mountain as far as infrastructure?” asked Cantrell, to which TAWC responded that they had partnered on leak detection.

Regarding base rates, both TAWC and WRUD have said they will not raise rates for five years. TAWC has said they will not raise rates for five years but that they are subject to the Tennessee Public Utility Commission.

Signal Mountain resident Don Strickland asked if that means TPUC could require TAWC to raise rates. TAWC said TPUC could call them in for a rate increase but that they didn’t anticipate that would happen.

Multiple citizens reiterated their support of WRUD because its water comes from an aquifer and requires less treatment, it has customer service on the mountain and it is not a for-profit utility.

The Town of Signal Mountain has scheduled a final meeting to hear from citizens and both proposers for Tuesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the gym located at 1111 Ridgeway Ave.

Source: Be Vocal. Choose Local.