The property behind the County Administration Building will be the future site of a $1.2 million facility for the Water Department.

Trousdale County’s Water Board approved by a 4-1 vote the expenditure of over $1.2 million for the construction of a new office and storage facility during a called meeting on June 1.

The board received two bids and went with the lower one, $1,243,700 from Phoenix Commercial Builders, which is based in Mt. Juliet. The 11,000 square-foot building will be located just to the right and behind the County Administration building on property previously purchased by the Water Department.

General Manager Tommy McFarland said a new building was necessary both to give more space to his office staff and to provide storage for equipment that is currently kept outside when not in use. McFarland added that the Water Department has enough funds in reserve to pay for the project outright, rather than borrowing the money.

Board members debated whether to wait on approving the expense to see if construction coats, which have skyrocketed in recent months, will come down. But County Mayor Stephen Chambers said, “I don’t think you’ll see it come down if at all.”

Dwight Jewell cast the lone vote in opposition, saying, “I cannot spend this amount of money… This will be such a political hot button. You think you saw a firestorm when we spent $600,000 on this building?”

Heather Bay spoke in favor of the project, saying, “I believe $1.2 million is a lot, but it’s our job to serve this community… With the growth of this county we need to jump on this before it gets worse.”

The board also met via Zoom with officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding a request to draw more water from the Cumberland River. The Water Department’s current permit allows a draw of 2 million gallons per day.

In May, the Corps lifted a moratorium on requests for new or increased water supply that had been in place since 2010. Trousdale Water officials have already held a pre-application meeting with the Corps and TDEC.

Amanda Burt, planning project manager for the Corps’ Nashville District, said a study had shown that the Corps could allow more water draws without affecting its other projects in the District.

Robby Baker with TDEC noted that, “Hartsville’s in a good position” and said exploring regional opportunities to provide water to outlying municipalities was something his office was interested in. Trousdale already sells water to the Castalian Springs/Bethpage District and has previously sold to Lafayette and others.

McFarland noted that an exact request for an increase was not in place, but said that roughly 10 years ago Trousdale had applied for an increase to 3 million gallons per day. That plan also called for upgrading the existing infrastructure to accommodate an increase in water flow.

“Two things we’re going to have to look at are our growth, which is exceeding anyone in the state. Plus the impact of large industries at the regional site, which a lot of others are not going to have. We’re in good position to show that need,” Jewell said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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