Residents and businesses in south Cumberland County have been losing more than a million gallons of water every month to recurring leaks in parts of the system that date all the way back to the early 1970s. Many of the troubled pipes were laid by private developers to serve a specific community.
As the region grew, the local water utility has been asked to adopt the private infrastructure and struggles to balance the need to bring non-conforming sections up to state regulatory requirements without penalizing existing customers.
According to local officials, the utility is now poised to make the needed improvements thanks to a "once-in-a-lifetime federal investment made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
On Thursday, USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode joined South Cumberland Utility District (SCUD) Chairman Jay Brown, General Manager Sandy Brewer, Supervisor Jack Davis and other local leaders to announce Recovery Act funding for projects that will replace leaky residential junction assemblies for about 700 households and install more cost effective remote-read water meters for more than 3,800 customers. The announcement was made at the SCUD office in Crossville.
"This funding, delivered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is another positive, long-needed investment in our rural communities," said Rep. Lincoln Davis. "I applaud Rural Development and officials in Cumberland County for partnering together to bring water to many families in a more efficient and cost effective manner."
The utility district was awarded Recovery Act funding through a USDA Rural Development (RD) low interest infrastructure loan of $702,000 and grant of $217,000 that will be combined with $131,000 from the Utility District. According to SCUD officials the work will improve reliability and significantly reduce water loss while reducing safety risks for personnel during meter readings.
"Safe, reliable drinking water is vital to the future of every healthy community," said Goode. "Making these infrastructure investments puts people to work now and lays the foundation for sustainable growth in rural communities through the next generation."
Others participating in the events included Rep. Lincoln Davis' Representative Tom Hayden, RD Area Director Jerry Jolley and staff Chris Hampton.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
More information about USDA‚Äôs Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery.
USDA Rural Development¬†invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 864,000 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $655 million in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Cumberland County contact the Rural Development Area Office in Cookeville at (931) 528-6539 ext. 2, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1493, or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.