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Water, wastewater needs rank high in Wilson
Oct 27, 2012 5:20 pm
Wilson County needs more than $125.8 million worth of water and wastewater improvements, according to a new report.
The figure includes projects local officials anticipate being needed between 2010-15.
“We’re still a long ways behind, but we’re progressing,” said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead. “We’ve got plans, and we’re working toward those plans.”
The report, “Building Tennessee’s Tomorrow: Anticipating the State’s Infrastructure Needs,” includes information provided by local officials from each of the state’s 95 counties.
The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations asked local officials to list any potential infrastructure needs through June 30, 2030 and to classify those needs based on the type of project.
To be included in the inventory, infrastructure projects must not be considered normal maintenance and must involve a capital cost of at least $50,000.
The report released Oct. 15 includes needs anticipated for July 2010 through June 2015.
In the water and wastewater category, Wilson County ranks eighth in the state, representing 2.9 percent of the state’s total in that category.
Wilson County needs or will need 36 water or wastewater projects, according to the report. As of July 2010, 8 projects totaling $22.8 million were in the planning or design stage and 4 projects totaling $36.2 million were under construction.
“We’re completing some wastewater projects over in the Gladeville area right now,” said Chris Leauber, executive director of the Water and Wastewater Authority of Wilson County. “We’re also collecting the tap fees and getting easements for an extension up on Athens, a waterline extension on Alsup Mill Lane and Bond Road and another one on East Richmond Shop Road. Those projects amount to around $1 million for construction.”
Projects relating to water and wastewater, however, differ from many other infrastructure projects in that they are not generally funded by county or city taxes. Funding comes from money recipients pay for the services, from grants and from bonds.
“We have to be operating financially sound,” said Leauber.
The challenge to this operating structure becomes more apparent in rural areas. Leauber estimates that about 96 percent of Wilson County residents have access to public water supply.
“The issue in regards to being able to provide public water supply to everyone in the county is the cost factor – it’s not cost effective,” said Leauber.
In the more rural areas, there are fewer customers available to offset the cost. Obtaining grants to fund providing those services is also difficult in that grants are awarded based on criteria such as the county’s unemployment rate and the county’s per capita income.
Wilson County has the state’s eighth-highest per capita income at $36,797, according to the 2010 Census.
Despite the challenges, water and wastewater infrastructure are critical to Wilson County residents, both at the individual level and at the community level, according to Leauber.
“These individuals (without access to public water supply) typically are on wells, and many times, their wells may go dry or their wells can be contaminated with bacteria,” said Leauber. “In reference to growth in the county, a lot of people these days won’t buy property if it doesn’t have access to public water supply.”
Staff writer Sara McManamy-Johnson can be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 16 or email@example.com.