Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Town Receives High Marks on Running the Water Dept.

Good news is pouring from the Town of Jonesborough’s Water Department, which recently received a high score for its overall performance and continues to keep outstanding bills at a minimum.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Water Supply conducted a water system survey in Jonesborough, returning the results to the town late last year.
The department scored a 99 out of 100, the highest score ever for the town.
“The review is really comprehensive,” said Bob Browning, town administrator. “It’s our total operation – everything from how you deal with complaints and how you record information to looking carefully at the way you operate your treatment facility.”
Jonesborough provides water as a certified public utility to more than 10,000 metered customers.
People who are on the system should feel some confidence about the product they are getting,” Browning said. “When I first started working for the town, our score, on a much less rigid evaluation, was a 47. We have made so many improvements since that time. We have come a long way.”
To maintain certification as a public utility, the town must score at least a 90 on the survey to test the health of the water system. The survey is conducted by the state every other year.
Browning said the town lost a point for a testing procedure on new water lines.
“Our staff actually received the training on the procedure we were using from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, but it turns out how the state wants it done is a little different,” Browning said. “That has already been corrected.”
After years of number crunching and policy examining, it seems an issue with overdue water payments has also been corrected.
“We have 10,000 water customers in our system and our outstanding bills for 90 days and over is $277,” said Town Mayor Kelly Wolfe. “That is a record that any collection agency would envy.”
It wasn’t always such a small number, though.
Browning remembers a time when the Town was owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in water bills that were more than 90 days past due.
With years of analysis and changes in procedure, the town has managed to get that number down to nearly nothing.
“It’s not that low without working on it,” Browning said, crediting town staff for their efforts. “We have been consistent with bill payments and cutoffs. And we are keeping on cycle with meter readings. It is a sign that you are really operating the way you are supposed to be when that number is that low.”
Town Recorder Abbey Miller has spent nearly a decade trying to fix the problem, one that now seems to be solved.
“I believe when I started about nine years ago,” she said, “it was over $100,000 in the ‘Over 90 Days’ category.”