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Two New Year’s resolutions for the Town of Jonesborough

Last week it was suggested that Washington County’s New Year’s Resolution should be the installation of clean utility water to all residents.
This week two New Year’s Resolutions for the Town of Jonesborough are suggested: (1) proceed with increasing the town’s sewage treatment capacity and (2) deal fairly and openly with town residents in solving the community’s traffic problems.
Good news concerning the sewer system was reported to readers of the Herald & Tribune in a front-page article on December 1, 2009. The news story written by Assistant Editor Kate Prahlad was titled: “WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Town sewer plant in compliance with state.”
To review, the Town faced fines up to $400,000 after Little Limestone Creek ran black with untreated sewage plant discharges. A Commissioner’s Order from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) reviewed the nearly 40 violations a month that were taking place.
The TDEC capped discharges into the creek at 500,000 gallons a day, a figure still in force. As of the date of this editorial, the number of violations has been cut to only a couple of month and State Agency spokesman Tisha Calabrese-Benton says Jonesborough is in complete compliance with the department’s enforcement order.
Town Administrator Bob Browning credits the following steps leading to compliance by Tennessee’s Oldest Town – facing problems with sewage settlement in the second stage of treatment, a new interceptor line was installed.
This dramatically cut the amount of water flowing into the treatment plant during storms by 100,000 to 200,000 gallons a day.
Steps permitting Jonesborough to maintain the proper amount of oxygen within its sewage system were also helped by retrofitting blowers that put air into settlement basins and plans were completed for a supplemental air system.
The Town has also invested in telemetry to allow it to know the operations of each of the 34 pump stations along the sewer line without having to physically inspect each station.
The steps mentioned in the preceding paragraph merely maintain a system that needs a major improvement.
The plant’s discharge needs to be moved from Little Limestone Creek to the Nolichucky River.
Prahlad reported: “As the town grows, it will have to deal with more sewage, but it can’t expand its connections until it has capacity to deal with more sewage, but it can’t expand its connections until it has the capacity to deal with more gallons per day. Unlike Little Limestone, the Nolichucky River can handle more than 500,000 gallons per day.” The story further stated “…last month the plant was averaging 710,000 gallons a day.”
In our opinion and in view of what is at least a positive Water/Sewer Reserve Fund balance, aggressive action should be taken now to move the discharge line to the Nolichucky River.
The BMA should also consider what additional steps need to be taken in improvements to the existing sewage treatment plant.
This newspaper has received more “Letters to the Editor” concerning treatment of the owner of Five Points Grocery than on any recent topic of interest to Jonesborough residents.
Without again reviewing the options available to the BMA, it is our opinion that the topic should again be addressed.
No construction is currently underway at the site, and an alternative in the form of the installation of traffic lights at this congested and dangerous intersection is available to planners and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Likewise, improvements to Jackson Boulevard in connection with access to the Mayor George P. Jaynes Justice Center of Washington County need to be explained to residents.
While meetings with property owners, public hearings, and change orders to accommodate the wishes of residents take time, in the long run these efforts usually result in positive changes and favorable community opinions.
A more sensitive approach to traffic concerns is suggested to Town officials in today’s comments without placing blame on any individual for oversights in the past.
These are two suggestions on Resolutions for the Town of Jonesborough during 2010. Hopefully, officials will take appropriate action on both of them.