By LISA WHALEY
Jonesborough’s water system has come a long way in the last 40 years, earning a score this year of 99 out of 100.
“When I came to the town, our rating at the water plant was 47,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning. “That was in 1978. It’s 100 times more complex than it was in 1978.”
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation conducts water plant evaluations every two years, according to Browning. The process takes about a week and involves TDEC representatives going over every detail of a municipality’s records, results and procedures used in providing its community with clean water.
“They look at all your records,” Browning said, both in water treatment and water distribution. “You have to document everything. You have to be able to show you have done everything (you are supposed to).”
That means making sure not only the water itself and products used to enhance it fall well within all safety guidelines, but also any byproducts from the purifying process itself.
The town must also show evidence of regular testing in not just the system as a whole, but also in slower moving lines with the potential problems.
“We’ve had some documentation points we’ve lost before,” Browning acknowledged.
Still for years “we’ve been in the neighborhood of 97 or 98.”
This year, however, the town came much closer to hitting the ball out of the park. It has been about 10 years since the town received a 99, he said, so town officials were very pleased when they received the latest results.
“We got zero points taken off for water distribution,” Browning said proudly of the department headed by Mike McCracken.
The town still lost a few points in water treatment, but those were all minor and fixable, he added.
Overall, the staff has done a tremendous job, Browning said. But nobody is resting on the win.
“Our intent is to be 100. If we are obligated to do something a certain way, we want to do it that way, to follow things by the book.
“We have a lot to be proud of. We have a great system and good quality water.”