WRWA requests city to withdraw water intake permit

By Thomas Wilson

   The Watauga Regional Water Authority (WRWA) voted Monday to request the Elizabethton City Council to withdraw the city's application to authorities to establish a water intake source from the Watauga River.
   The withdrawal would allow the authority to submit its own application, and continue the process to establish a regional water source for the county.
   "It is not just something you can talk about administratively," said Ted Leger, director of Public Works for the city. "The (authority) cannot transfer a permit application from one entity to another. The city council started it and they have to withdraw it."
   The Authority approved a site application for submission to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for permission to draw water from the river in June. The permit requested drawing approximately 12 million gallons of water per day from the river.
   A municipal entity applying for a permit must wade through a veritable alphabet's soup of state and federal agencies.
   Leger said the city's application initially went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), then to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the state Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
   The Corps of Engineers looked primarily at any disruption of river navigation while other agencies reviewed archaeological, historical and environmental concerns, said Leger.
   The city council approved submission of an application to establish a water intake source on the Watauga last year.
   Leger also said the city would have trouble justifying a permit that called for a daily intake of 16 million gallons of water from the Watauga.
   The authority also voted to refer the selection process for an engineering firm to oversee the water intake source project to committee. The committee would establish criteria for the engineering firm and set the parameters of how the water intake plant would function.
   Potential engineering firms are already lining up to seek consideration for the engineering award for the project.
   Representatives from Tysinger, Hampton and Partners in Johnson City, Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon of Knoxville, J.R. Wauford & Co., and C2RL, Inc., Engineers from Blount County, attended Monday's meeting.
   In other business, the Authority heard from six of seven candidates on Monday night and their views regarding the Authority's creation and purpose.
   County executive candidates Stanley Bailey, Dale Fair, Richard Gray, Brad Green, Janet Hart Hyder and Bob McClain spoke briefly of the water authority.
   All six candidates voiced their support to the regional water project and their intention to learn more about the WRWA's purpose and plan.