Big Springs extension to provide cleaner water

By Julie Fann and Tom Wilson
star staff,

Elizabethton Public Works officials said Tuesday that progress is under way to build an extension to the Big Springs Water Plant that will provide customers cleaner water by reducing turbidity.
   Teresa Nidiffer, chief water plant operator, said she is hopeful the $2.73 million project will improve water quality.
   The plant was found in violation of state turbidity requirements last August when the county experienced flooding problems.
   "We tend to have turbidity problems only during extremely heavy rainfalls," said Nidiffer. "We replaced the filter media in all of the filters, but we also use a coagulant to treat the water, and this project will deal with that aspect."
   She said the project would affect customers in the Milligan area.
   The new Acti-Flow system will introduce chemicals to clean the water before it reaches the filters. The state required level for turbidity, unclear or murky water which may contain harmful bacteria, is .30 per measured unit of water. Nidiffer said the new system will reduce turbidity to .002.
   "If your turbidity is above a certain level, you can make a reasonable assumption that other things are getting through as well," added Ted Leger, Elizabethton's director of Public Works.
   Robin Bragg, owner/manager of Milligan Grocery, said the water's murkiness in August had forced the store to shut down their fountain drink operations for several days due to health concerns.
   "Sometimes, (the water) is clouded," said Bragg. "I just hope they get the problem fixed."