November 7, 2018
By Marlana Ward
The demands upon the Town of Mountain City water supply will continue to be successfully met with the town’s recent decision to extend its contract with the George Lowe Spring during the October meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Initially signed almost twenty years ago, the town’s contract with the George Lowe Spring has helped meet demand as the utility’s need for water has increased.
“At the time, the Town was looking for an additional water source,” explained City Recorder Sheila Shaw in an interview concerning the history of the spring’s integration to the water supply. “There was some talk about using Watauga Lake as an alternate water source, but that cost was too prohibitive. The Town also looked into drilling wells in the Doe Valley area, and that didn’t work out. The other alternative was the Lowe spring, which was a very large fresh water source.”
“The initial lease agreement signed in January 1999 was for a ten-year term,” said Shaw. “At that expiration, the lease could be extended for two additional ten-year terms.”
Approximately 30percent of the Mountain City Water Department’s water supply comes from the Lowe Spring. The increase in demand for water and the location of the spring were factors when choosing what source to use.
“The Town was looking for an additional water source due to demand,” said Shawl. “Not that the prison was the sole factor, but it played a part in the town seeking additional water sources.”
Before the town committed to the contract for water from the spring, extensive testing was done to ensure the water’s safety and the spring’s ability to meet demand.
“In the beginning, the state of Tennessee did extensive research before issuing the Town an ARAP Permit (Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit) that would allow the Town to take water from the spring,” explained Shaw. “Currently, water from the spring is tested on a daily basis.”
Shaw emphasized that the 1999 acquisition of the water supply from the spring also led to improvements to the water system in the Doe area.
“The town built the Lowe Springs Water Treatment Plant and installed new lines in the area,” Shaw said. While the contract extension for the Lowe Spring meets current demand, the town continues to research and prepare for future
demand on the local water supply as Shaw expressed: “The Town is currently in the process of evaluating that situation and looking into additional water sources.”