At its December meeting, the Hawkins County Board of Education was presented with the option of paying as much as $412,000 for a new well water filtration system to replace the original one, which has reportedly become unreliable.
Before paying that much money for a new filtration system that would likely last only 20-30 years, the BOE asked Director of Schools Matt Hixson to investigate the option of having water lines extended to Clinch from a utility district.
A couple of years ago, the BOE began talks with the Sneedville Water Utility and the Appalachian Regional Commission about extending water service into Hawkins County and Clinch Valley and serving the residents of that community as well as the school.
Clinch School is about six miles from the Sneedville Water District, and the cost of the water line expansion at the time was estimated at $6 million.
That project was shelved because there was no interest on the part of the ARC in helping fund it.
Hixson told the BOE at Thursday’s school board meeting that he had met recently with Lakeview Utility District general manger Tim Carwile, along with his board members, his engineer, and members of the Sneedville and First Utility water districts.
Hixson said he was advised that water line expansion to Clinch would cost between $2 million and $4 million due to the terrain, and water would probably still have to be treated upon its arrival.
“The water would be significantly old before we were able to draw from it,” Hixson added. “If you consider where it was being drawn from, and then time spent in that pipe before it gets to Clinch School, that is quite the (lengthy) time period. We would most likely have to treat it and retest it on our end if we were to go down and do a project like that.”
Hixson added, “His (Carwile’s) best opinion, and those that were shared on the team … was to encourage me to reach out to another individual who has a water treatment system that probably would work for Clinch and save a significant amount of money.”
Hixson said he will arrange to meet that individual at Clinch.
He invited any interested board members to attend “and hear what his take is on lower cost options for Clinch’s water supply.”
Due to its rural location on the north side of Clinch Mountain, the K-12 Clinch is the only school in Hawkins County that isn’t hooked up to a public water utility.
Although the school is only 10 years old, assistant district energy specialist Brandon Williams told the BOE in December that the school’s well water filtration system is unreliable.
At the December meeting, Williams said, “A lot of issues revolve around the control system that operates that well. It’s a complicated piece of machinery — glitches pretty regularly. We have taken steps to reduce how often that happens, but it does still happen on a pretty regular basis.”