Blount Co. Officials Praise Citizens, Speed Of Pipeline Construction

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Blount County (WVLT) -- Construction of a pipeline to bring water to drought-stricken cities of Alcoa and Maryville is underway, on schedule and under budget.

The original estimate $2 million price tag on the nearly two mile long pipeline is now estimated to cost about a half million dollars less.

Regardless, officials in both cities believe the most important aspect of the pipeline is that it will ensure that residents get water.

Project organizers of the 950 foot pipeline that stretches from above the Rockford Dam to the intake of Alcoa's water treatment plant say everything on there end is on schedule.

“It’s a little bit better than 60 percent completed,” said Simon Divente, assistant director of Alcoa Public Works. “We're at a little bit over 6,000 feet of pipe on the ground right now.”

The project was designed to bring essential water to Alcoa and Maryville, and had been discussed for years.

But it was made necessary when because of drought, the flow rates of the Little River dwindled to levels so low that the state was in the position to ask both cities not to pump from it.

“That was really scheduled some where between now and 2017,” said Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson. “Obviously we are into that project a little quicker than we anticipated.”

Another reason for the pipeline’s construct is to protect the endangered Fine-Rayed Pigtoe Mussel.

The pipeline will serve as a secure backup for both Alcoa and Maryville.

“If something happened and we couldn’t pump anymore water at our plant, this would enable us to keep pumping water from Alcoa as well as South Blount,” said Jeff Rose, from Maryville Water Quality Control.

The one thing the pipeline won’t do is ease water restrictions.

That’s because the state has mandated water restrictions stay in place because of the Mussel’s.

Alcoa and Maryville hope the flow rate of Little River is up for discussion.

“Since 20 to 25 years ago when those limits were established, it has been vastly improved,” said Johnson. “So a second look is certainly in order.”

Officials are pleased with the progress of the project, attributing how quickly it is being built to the willingness of owners to sign land easements which usually takes months instead of days.

“We're very proud of our citizens,” Johnson said. “Again, this is the “Volunteer State” and this is a prime example of volunteerism.

Project officials believe all of the pipes should be connected by Friday when the pumps arrive.

If all goes well, water will be flowing through the new pipeline on Monday.