Bobby Goode, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development in Tennessee, came to Jonesborough Tuesday for an Earth Day celebration of $10 million in waste water treatment improvements being accomplished in the town with help from the agency.
Tuesday’s celebration outside the Jonesborough Visitors Center was centered around a major expansion of the town’s waste water treatment plant and an six-mile extension of the plant’s out-fall lines being implemented with funding assistance from Rural Development and other funding sources. The two-phase project will greatly improve the quality of the plant’s emissions and move its discharge out of Little Limestone Creek, which flows through downtown Jonesborough.
“Waste water treatment doesn’t have much charisma as a project but it is extremely important to the environment,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said.
Phase one of the project is a $5.5-million expansion of the treatment plant, located just off West Main Street. It includes the construction of two 500,000 gallon oxidation basins, head works, screens and clarifiers that Browning said will give Jonesborough the ability to provide quality waste water treatment for the next 30 years.
Phase two is a $4.5 million extension of the out-fall lines that will carry the plant’s discharge from the creek that runs beside the plant to the much larger Nolichucky River.
Goode said together the projects represent a $10 million investment in improvement of Jonesborough’s waste water system, from which about $4.5 million will come from Rural Development loans and grants.
In addition to “protecting the earth,” Goode said the project will allow the town to contribute significantly to recruitment of new industry for the region.
“We have worked in partnership with Jonesborough for 40 years. They’re great partners and we are pleased to be able to assist them,” he said.
Work on the plant expansion began last May and Browning said Tuesday its construction is now about 85 percent complete and expected to wrap up this summer.
Work to secure property easements for the new out-fall line is continuing and the project should be ready to advertise for bids and begin construction this fall, he said.
In addition to Rural Development grants and loans, funding for the project includes a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state, and about $1 million in Economic Development Agency funding.
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said Rural Development “has played a major role in every major step taken over three decades to improve (waste) water treatment” in Jonesborough.
“Earth Day is a great day to celebrate the fact that we will finally have plant that treats waste water properly and has the capacity to serve for 20 or 30 years thanks to their grants and funding.
“RD has made this possible and we’re honored to have them in Jonesborough for Earth Day,” Wolfe said.