By Dave Ongie
Leaders from Washington County and Johnson City gathered at a non-descript intersection in Washington County last Thursday to celebrate the completion of the Ford Creek Water Extension Project.
On the surface, the location doesn’t look like much – just some straw covering a rural hillside that sits just a stone’s throw from Interstate 26. But for the folks in the 35 homes who will have access to potable drinking water once the project is complete, the valve-turning ceremony signaling the end of the first segment of the project will be a day long remembered.
“This is a remarkable day for our Ford Creek residents,” said Bryan Davenport, Washington County commissioner and Public Works Committee chairman. “Potable water service is something many of us take for granted in our everyday life. When we turn our faucets and clean water comes out, we don’t often think about how much that means to our overall health, safety and quality of life. I’m so proud that this partnership is bringing them that service.”
Johnson City Mayor David Tomita noted that completing projects like the Ford Creek Water Extension can often be an “arduously slow” process. But thanks to cooperation between the City and County governments, progress has been made at a breakneck pace. Ground was broken in February of this year, and contractor East Tennessee Turf and Landscape of Morristown expects work to be done by November.
The total project cost of $708,000 is being split between the county ($450,000) and the city ($258,000).
“This is a model we can and should follow moving forward,” Tomita said. “Local governments exist for the betterment of all citizens, and if we can pool our resources and provide much-needed services in an efficient and effective way, everyone wins.”
In addition to the 35 existing homes scheduled to receive potable drinking water as a result of this partnership, there are several vacant lots in the area that may now become more attractive to developers as a result of the improvement. The Ford Creek Water Extension also serves to bridge the gap between two existing waterlines, yielding additional benefits to the overall water system.
“The installation of this line will connect two parts of our water system separated by Interstate 26,” said Johnson City Water and Sewer Services Director Tom Witherspoon. “Looping of the water system provides additional redundancy in the event of breakage while improving flow to meet additional demands from growth.”