SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – After years of waiting and some stumbling blocks along the way, roughly 100 families in the Denton Valley Community of Sullivan County are expected to receive clean drinking water in 2017.
Intermont Utility District President Larry Barker says the utility will break ground on the long-awaited project this year and in the process, will spend a more than $2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant before it expires on December 31.
“We want to get started,”Barker said.
“How certain are you that this is going to happen?” we asked.
“99.99%,” he replied. “The only thing that’d keep me from seeing it through is death.”
The grant’s upcoming expiration date comes more than three years after our Community Watchdog investigation helped save the Sullivan County water project. The grant nearly expired in 2013. After we tested wells to confirm the presence of E. coli the government granted a three-year extension.
Our tests identified Norman Roberts’ well as contaminated. He and his neighbors continue to stock up on as much bottled water as they can afford, but Roberts is optimistic the clean water project will now become a reality.
“For us to have water it’s going to be like living in heaven I think,” he said. “It’s wonderful.”
Barker knows the need is critical. He says the utility district’s received notes from doctors saying the current water situation has resulted in health problems, like Crohn’s disease, for some.
“I know of at least a half a dozen (people impacted),” he said.
Intermont Utility District will hold a meeting next week to update the community on the project. The meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday, March 29 at South Chapel Church.
According to Barker, the project, which includes fire hydrants, is ready to go to bid. Construction on a corresponding Washington County Service Authority upgrade, which will make the project possible, is expected to begin later this year too, according to WCSA General Manager Robbie Cornett.
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