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Town of Jonesborough conducts water survey for future development

W. Kenneth Medley II • May 5, 2019 at 9:35 PM

A water pressure survey that was approved during April’s Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting is underway in the town.

The work is being done by  with GRW Engineering of Knoxville at a cost not to exceed $10,000.

“That is a growth area for us that has not received too much attention in the last number of years,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “People who are looking to develop in the higher elevations along the Boones Creek Road, the ridge line above the (George Jaynes) Justice Center and that area over there; we have had three or four different requests for information where people are working on some residential type development.”

The study is being done to test water pressures in an area that has some of the lowest in the town. The fear is that with further development at higher elevations pressure would not be sufficient. That would especially be the case during a high-flow event, like a fire, according to John Burris, project manager with GRW Engineering.

Burris said that this early in the study it is too early to know anything. The firm has just started receiving initial data on the town’s water pressures. Mike McCracken, water distribution superintendent, said he and his staff had been out collecting data since the study’s approval.

“There is no issue with fire flow at this point,” McCracken said. “We are looking down the road in the future for growth. We know that it is going to happen. Some individuals have kind of indicated some growth going on in here and we are just trying to get ourselves set up for future growth.”

Both Browning and McCracken said that interest for development was expressed from outside sources before the study was approved. The study is not to exceed $10,000, as stated in the board’s April agenda. Those funds are coming from the town’s engineering budget within the water and sewer fund, according to Browning.

“The reason the money is being spent,” McCracken said, “is we have had a lot of growth going in around the Justice Center on North Cherokee Street, and we have also had interest shown off some roads down along Boones Creek Road. The area around Lowe’s and Headtown Road is part of our lowest pressures in our water system. With the rapid growth we started looking at that high ridge for development. It felt like we needed to look at that closely before development went in there to make sure that we have adequate flow, fire flow and so forth for those people, if we do develop.”

Browning said the outcome of the study will determine what the next steps will be. The areas that seem to be the most worrisome to McCracken are those above 1,900 feet. The reservoir tank along the ridge now is below that.

“The likelihood is that (improvements) will be a small reservoir,” Browning said, “and the reservoir will be at a high elevation. That elevation provides pressure that goes down into the lines and you have to potentially valve it off, so it is a hydraulic issue. We are not doing work on individual services. We are looking at water storage that is at a high enough elevation that it provides the right kind of pressure.”

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