New delivery route temporary solution to water problems

By Megan R. Harrell

STAR STAFF
mharrell@starhq.com

  
Last night marked the inaugural run of a new water delivery route in the Little Milligan community. A 4,000 gallon milk truck will now bring water to residents who have never had the luxury of tapping into clean drinking water at their properties.
   Bob Reed, of Limestone donated the milk truck to the community after he learned of the water woes through a local farmer. Reed owns seven similar trucks and operates a liquid delivery business in Eastern Tennessee.
   According to Little Milligan Principal, J.R. Campbell, the community has been looking for a large truck in order to supply residents with a sufficient amount of water throughout the winter.
   "We were looking for a milk truck for deliveries because they have to be clean, and now we can bring drinkable water to people who need it," Campbell said. "We are just ecstatic. We have thought all along that a water route is what we needed, and it has just happened."
   Before donating the truck to Little Milligan, Reed equipped it with six new tires. He also arranged for the truck driver to be covered by his insurance.
   A Carter County bus driver will be making the scheduled water deliveries over the next several months. Campbell stated that deliveries will begin where they are needed most, then they will proceed to other homes. "We are going to the neediest first," Campbell said. "We have some people that are sick and we have targeted them. We know of 10 homes that we are going to get to first," Campbell said.
   Campbell said the water route could end up benefiting as many as 50 families that are currently without utility water, filling residents' cisterns with thousands of gallons of clean drinking water.
   The water route is providing an immediate solution to a long term problem in the community. County Executive, Dale Fair and state officials are currently working to establish a permanent solution to water problems throughout the county.
   Residents will not have to pay for the cost of the water or for its delivery. A Little Milligan School community water fund has been established to cover the cost of providing needy residents with water.
   Over $3,000 has already been donated to the fund, and with a few more donations, Campbell believes the community will be able to make it until spring. He said diesel fuel for the truck will account for most of the cost related to the delivery effort.
   Money from the fund will be used to pay a nominal fee for water at the Hampton Water Utility. Dr. Lee Miller is a commissioner with the utility, and said they have been trying to help the Little Milligan residents by supplying them with water.
   "Our policy is not to profit from the misery of others," Miller said. "We first offered for anybody to come get water for free, and we are treating them like regular utility customers."
   Miller added that the Hampton utility would love to give the water away for free, but it belongs to the entire community. He said, however, they do have one of the lowest rates in the state.
   In addition to the delivery route, money donated to the fund will be used to pay for the construction of indoor bathrooms and for the installation of hot water holding tanks in some homes in the community.
   Several local carpenters have donated their time and skills to the projects, and Campbell hopes to begin construction at some of the homes before Thanksgiving.