Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nashville's flood-damaged water treatment plant is operating again

Nashville is urged to conserve as usage restrictions end By Nate Rau • THE TENNESSEAN • June 2, 2010 Calling it a sign that things are returning to normal for flood-ravaged Nashville, Mayor Karl Dean announced Tuesday that the K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plant is operating again after being submerged under floodwaters a month ago. As a result, Davidson County residents can end their monthlong conservation efforts, and businesses such as car washes can return to normal operation. At one point in the days after the May 1-2 flooding, the city's water reserves dipped to about one-third of normal levels, and the possibility of having to switch to bottled water hung in the air. "This is a big step forward in our recovery efforts," Dean said at a news conference held at the facility. "It's a sign that we are returning to normal as a city." The K.R. Harrington plant is surrounded by the Cumberland and Stones rivers. It was submerged under water a month ago and suffered $42 million worth of damages as a result. The city's Water Services said previously that it could see total damage costs to all of its operation of approximately $200 million. Before he knows how much of that cost the city will have to pay, Dean said he was still waiting on details of federal recovery funds, which are expected to cover most of the repair. Tim Jones, who owns five Nashville-area Champion car washes, welcomed news of K.R. Harrington coming back online. Jones said area car wash owners have banded together since the flood and are planning to create their own association as a result. He said the record flooding severely hurt car wash business, which didn't return until last week, and even then only at limited hours. "It's obviously been horrendous," Jones said. "The car wash industry has lost millions of dollars over 30 days since we've been shut down. It's cost a lot of people a lot of money, and it's put 200 people out of jobs. These are real people, with real families." Jones said his company managed to keep its 25 employees, even paying some of them to assist with cleanup efforts in the days after the flood. "We wanted to help," Jones said. "We want to get back to normal now." In addition to car washes getting the green light, officials said irrigation customers would be notified soon about when their service will be restored. Conservation mindset Water Services Director Scott Potter encouraged residents to maintain the conservation mindset as summer weather arrives. The K.R. Harrington plant will be operating at 50 percent capacity at first, which Potter said would be sufficient to meet the county's water supply needs. "I appreciate the public's support in conservation efforts," Potter said. "And I encourage our customers to continue to use our water supply responsibly as we continue work to bring K.R. Harrington back to full-scale operation." With only one water treatment plant operating, Dean and Potter called on residents to trim their water usage. First, Davidson County residents were asked to cut usage in half. Then, recommended usage increased to 70 percent. Water Services purchased water from neighboring utility districts to help shoulder the burden on the Omohundro plant, which narrowly escaped flood damage and was saved thanks largely to the sandbagging efforts of in-mates from the county jail. Dean complimented Potter's leadership over the last month, which included putting the K.R. Harrington plant back online while dealing with damage to other water infrastructure. In the days after the flood, Potter implored Nashvillians to cut water use. "We would not have been able to get through this past month if it was not for the cooperation of all Nashvillians in that effort," Dean said. "We still have a lot of work to do as a city to fully recover, but we can do it, and we will continue to move forward day by day."

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