WRRWA discusses mapping system, appoints lawyer

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

The Watauga River Regional Water Authority met Monday evening with a short but important agenda.
   One of the main items that WRRWA Director Michael Hughes presented to the board was the prospect of a Geographic Information System for Carter County. He attended a presentation on the GIS and the surrounding counties that have implemented it, including Washington and Unicoi Counties.
   The Knox County GIS is described as an automated mapping and geographic information system created, owned, and funded by the city of Knoxville, Knox County and the Knoxville Utilities Board.
   KGIS maintains digital geographic data for all of Knox County, Tennessee. The KGIS office is responsible for maintaining the centralized GIS servers, databases and network that is shared by the various departments and users. Some of the core mapping information, including topography and aerial photography, are managed by the KGIS office, while other map "layers", such as property and address data, are maintained by the respective city, county and KUB departments.
   Carter County 911, government offices, Elizabethton Electric, the city of Elizabethton and other agencies are considering purchasing the system for use in Carter County. The whole mapping system would cost $358,400. Knox County paid $3.5 million in 1984 for its system.
   The match required from the different agencies would be approximately $89,600. Deciding what amount of the match each agency will fund will be decided according to the number of grids per system. This item will be determined at a later date if the GIS is purchased.
   David Reece, with JJ&G, the company performing the comprehensive water systems improvements study, said, "GIS will be a great benefit to you as you create a water authority. I encourage you to strongly consider it."
   Hughes said the item was not ready to be voted on, but he did inform the board that another informational meeting about the GIS will be held on May 10 at 1 p.m. at the Truman Clark Annex at the Carter County Health Department.
   In other business, the board appointed Tom McKee as the WRRWA attorney. He is with the law firm of Herndon, Coleman, Brading, and McKee in Johnson City. He is also the attorney for the Johnson City Power Board.
   First Utility District paid its first payment of $1,500 to the WRRWA. Prior to Monday's meeting, the utility had an outstanding balance due to the board but held off payment pending clarification of some misunderstandings in the private act.
   McKee informed the board that he will meet with the First Utility District lawyer to resolve these issues.
   Members also approved a resolution stating, "it is not the intent of the board to exercise or promote the involuntary acquisition of any utility district."
   Some board members were concerned with the language in the private act that states the water authority could take over a failing utility, but that can occur only if the utility agrees. The resolution was approved unanimously.