Now that the Cumberland County Commission has approved a county-wide water authority, work begins on membership.
The legislature approved the idea as a way to address long term water needs. Mayor Allen Foster said utility boards within the county will have the first opportunity to join.
“Now we just go and talk to them and see if and how they want to participate,” Foster said. “I appoint some members. The city mayor is going to appointment some members with confirmation by the county commission and the city council of course.”
Foster said there are signs of interest early in the process. Foster said future water options could include creating a new water source or even combining all the utility districts.
“Pulling resources is a good thing,” Foster said. “You just get the economy of scale out of things like that. It gives you more buying power and the authority to maybe have more employees instead of contracting out and being good to your employees and quicker service. There’s a lot of positives that can come from something like this.”
Foster said the city of Crossville and Crab Orchard Utility District are the main water producers of the county. Catoosa Utility District, South Cumberland Utility District and West Cumberland Utility buy water from the two.
“We’re not forcing anybody to join it or anything like that, but it gives the opportunity to work together as the way they see fit,” Foster said. “Whatever the utilities choose to do. We’ve just given them a pathway.”
Foster said the county is in good shape water wise for right now, but the area is growing at a rapid rate. Foster said the goal is to look towards the future and prepare for water needs.