A private act has been approved for General Assembly consideration that would lay the groundwork for a new Cumberland County water authority board.
Mayor Allen Foster said the Cumberland Plateau Water Authority’s goal is to create a water source for the future by merging several water utilities.
“It could be creating a lake. It could be raising a dam,” Foster said. “It could be a lot of different things, and that is part of the discussion. The county and all the utilities need to at least discuss where the water is going to come from.”
Foster said the private act does not force any action by a utility district. Foster said groups will have free will to join the merger. It also protects current employees, pay and benefits for those utility boards that do decide to join.
“The big goal is a water source,” Foster said. “That’s a problem across a lot of the Upper Cumberland in many areas. We’ve been told by TDEC and other agencies that if you want a new water source, you have to work on a more regional concept. They do not want to approve a water source for five small utilities. They would rather find one that all of them can use. It’s a concept to get the utilities to work together in their choosing.”
Foster said water supply in the county is healthy now but that has not always been the case. Foster said not long ago, residential water use was limited after back to back dry seasons.
“People weren’t allowed to fill swimming pools and water their yards,” Foster said. “This will let those utilities get together and figure out what that best source would be. This is one of those visionary things. It’s one of those things that’s about down the road when my grandchildren and their kids are drinking water they are going to have no idea that the utilities or the county commissioners or the mayor back in 2022 were working on the issue. It’s one of those things about the future.”
Foster said the idea has been tried several times over the years.