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County funds Boone Lake Association request

Boone Lake has been lacking water, but is set to be refilled in the next two years. (H&T file photo)

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Boone Lake Association is one step closer to cleaning up Boone Lake.

The Washington County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to fund the first payment of the Boone Lake Association’s $62,500 request in order to purchase a catamaran multi-purpose workboat to remove debris from Boone Lake. The first payment is $40,000. The resolution also included that the second payment would not exceed $22,500 in fiscal year 2021. Johnson City is also set to match the funds to half the project with Washington County. Commissioners Freddie Malone and Robbie Tester were absent.

The skimmer/workboat will be used to clean the Watauga River channel that feeds into Boone Lake. Commissioner Mike Ford asked if the cleaning boat would be used in Washington County or Sullivan County.

BLA President Val Kosmider said the group plans to ask Sullivan County’s entities to fund a boat to do the same work in the Holston River channel that also feeds into Boone Lake.

“The intention is to use this machine exclusively on the Watauga side, which is the county waters of Washington County.” Kosmider said. “We are going to make a similar presentation to Sullivan County, Kingsport and Bristol and hope for the same result. But for now, this boat belongs to Boone Lake Association for use on the Washington County side of the lake.”

The lake is set to be filled in 2021. That, Kosmider said at the county’s Health, Education and Welfare meeting on Dec. 4, will cause an influx of debris the BLA is attempting to combat before the water levels start rising.

“We think at that point,” Kosmider said, “they are going to start to dislodge some things: one is the accumulated debris that’s out there — garbage, cans, you name it, it’s out there.”

The funds for the skimmer boat will come from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s economic impact dollars given to local governments effected by the lake construction. TVA has paid Washington County over $1.7 million over the past three years. Now part of those funds, Kosmider said, will help create a cleaner lake environment for the community.

“The boat will make it possible to do things we cannot currently do,” Kosmider said. “We just simply run out of man hours. There’s always more work than there is man hours to do it.”