WRWA seeks advice

By Stephen S. Glass

Star Staff

   Members of the Watauga Regional Water Authority sought advice Monday night from the chairman of the Dickson County Water Authority, Elmo Lunn. Lunn is also the former head of the state's Division of Water Control.
   Lunn had high praise for the newly formed panel, saying they had so far avoided many of the mistakes he and his cohorts in Middle Tennessee made early on in the adoption of their program.
   Lunn said that having representatives from each of the county's utility districts on the water authority board was an important organizational step, but one that he and authority members in Dickson County missed in the beginning.
   "At least you've already got everybody at the table," said Lunn. "That puts you seven to eight years ahead of where we started."
   Lunn said that when the Dickson County Water Authority was first formed, the board was comprised of local businessmen, bankers, lawyers and politicians but did not include local utility owners or representatives.
   "You definitely need good financial, legal and political advice," said Lunn. "But there were some important questions about moving and selling water we just didn't have the answers to because we weren't talking to the right people."
   Lunn advised authority members to establish a "funding mechanism" as soon as possible.
   "The most beneficial thing we did was to get funding mechanisms in place so we could have the money we needed to do feasibility studies. Everything accelerated after that."
   In Dickson County, each participating utility district now levies a surcharge of 50 cents per 1000 gallons of water to help fund the building project. The DCWA also has water purchase agreements with those utilities and has begun selling bonds to fund the project.
   While the recently formed WRWA has yet to discuss long-term funding, members have been searching for grants and have reason to hope that federal money will be appropriated for the project.
   Lunn also advised members to be attentive to areas of future growth in the region when planning the project.
   "If you're not thinking about 20 and 30 years down the road, your customers will be the ones to pay for it," said Lunn.