published Monday, April 25th, 2011

Griffith Creek project boosts pressure, capacity


• $750,000: Project cost

• $600,000: Loan amount

• $150,000: Principal forgiveness/grant

• 20 years: Loan term

• 1.5 million: Gallons used per month by Griffith Utility District customers

• 19 percent: Rate increase to pay for loan

Source: Griffith Creek Utility District

About 470 residents on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau will benefit from a $750,000 project to improve water pressure and capacity in the Griffith Creek Utility District.

The utility, just west of Whitwell, Tenn., provides drinking water to parts of Grundy, Marion and Sequatchie counties.

The project is funded with a combination grant/loan to pay for a new booster station on state Highway 108, a 150,000-gallon storage tank and two pressure-reducing-valve stations on Pocket Road that will replace the existing single station, state officials said.

Utility board Commissioner Kathryn Reed said the project will answer some longtime needs.

“Hopefully, we’ll see some improvement on pressure and we’ll have a 24-hour supply of water,” Reed said.

Project funding includes a 20-year, $600,000 interest-free loan, of which $150,000 will not have to be repaid, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said.

It works out to an 80 percent/20-percent loan-grant, the best officials could hope for, Lockhart said.

“That loan is zero interest; you can’t do better than that,” Reed said.

But rates will go up 19 percent to pay for the improvements, utility district office manager Marsha Privett said.

She said the increase was implemented in two phases. The first increase in January raised rates from $25.56 to $27.59 for the first 1,500 gallons. In July, rates will increase to $31.56, Privett said.

Residents who attended community meetings held during planning asked questions about improvements, while others “were concerned about spending that amount of money and how we were going to pay for it,” Privett said.

Several people complained about the rate increase, she said.

But residents will notice dramatic improvements to the system that has been plagued with pressure problems for at least 10 years, Privett said. And customers will have a reliable, around-the-clock water supply, she said.

Marion County Mayor John Graham said the improvements will answer past problems and pave the way for future growth.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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