All Carter Countians deserve clean drinking water

Published 12:38 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Residents of Dry Hollow on Stoney Creek have something to be extra thankful for this Thanksgiving — clean drinking water is coming to their homes.
The project has been years in the making. Last week local officials signed the contract for the project which will provide clean water to Dry Hollow residents. Nearly half of the cost will be covered by a Community Development Block Grant and the remainder will be covered by funds received by Carter County as part of the American Rescue Plan federal funds designated for utilities and infrastructure.
Construction is expected to begin in mid-December with the estimated construction time put at 150 days.
The residents of Dry Hollow previously used a private water system which became contaminated and state officials ordered the system to cease operation. The First Utility District, which serves Stoney Creek, was willing to take the residents onto their system, but the construction costs were going to be more than the utility could afford on its own.
But now, with the Community Block Grant and federal funds received by the county, the water lines will be extended, and the residents will receive utility water.
There are many communities across this nation just like Dry Hollow. For many years Little Milligan residents were forced to rely on wells and springs for water. Ensuring safe drinking water has become a growing challenge in the face of aging infrastructure, impaired source water and strained community finances. Clean, safe water costs.
In 2105, the same year that the water crisis in Flint, Mich., made headlines, more than 21 million people nationwide relied on drinking water systems that violated basic legal health standards, according to the study. Throughout the country, low-income communities disproportionately bear the brunt of this crisis. In California, drinking water contamination is most likely to afflict small, low-income communities of color, particularly Latino farmworker communities that have not benefited from the tremendous economic growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and other urban centers. However, nearly every county in the state has a system without safe drinking water.
Safe drinking water is a problem all across the nation, and Dry Hollow community in Carter County is just one of many rural communities for which a source of clean, drinking water was a problem. Regulatory compliance with drinking water regulations can be a challenge for rural systems and communities due to limited financial resources and technical expertise. Also, small systems like the First Utility District often face restricted access to loans and outside financing.
All people living in Tennessee and elsewhere deserve access to clean drinking water and states must do more to ensure that it happens.
Clean drinking water is something that we often take for granted in the U.S., but it is dependent on complex, aging infrastructure that consists of a system of aqueducts, distribution pipes, reservoirs, and water tunnels. Delivering on-spec, drinkable water requires a delicate balance of dependable source water, proper treatment protocols, and intact delivery piping, not to mention competent local officials and employees who oversee water quality. A disturbance in any one of these areas could lead to serious issues or even a public health crisis; nowhere is this more apparent than in Flint, Mich.
We are truly grateful in Carter County for water distributors like the Watauga River Water Authority and the Hampton Springs which provide water to our utility districts, which in turn provide Carter County households with safe drinking water.
This Thanksgiving, we count it among our blessings to have a clean, safe source of drinking water and ample water for household usage such as laundry, indoor plumbing, and cleaning.