Agreements reached on water

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 11:56 PM

County Commission approved new water agreements with Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Monday, ending a long-running battle between the county and cities.

The county had been offering water service to some residents using water provided by the cities. It voted several years ago to create its own water department to better serve customers. While the water will still come from the cities, the county will take over responsibility for the pipelines and delivery of water.

As the county reviewed the agreements, it found that the cities had not been paying money owned under the earlier contracts, which were signed in 1997. That led to a squabble that resulted in a lawsuit between Sevierville and the county.

The county was eventually able to resolve its differences with both cites, and Monday commissioners approved two new agreements that call for the cities to provide water to metered locations. The county will be responsible for water services from those locations to other areas.

“It’s been a long and very difficult period to get to (this) point,” County Mayor Larry Waters said.

The cities have already approved the agreements, meaning the county should be ready to move ahead quickly, he noted.

Commissioner Warren Hurst, who chairs the water committee, said the new agreements mean the county can move ahead with providing water to residents who have not been able to get that service before, but he cautioned the county can’t immediately start rolling the service out to everyone.

It’s going to be a good thing for the county,” he said, noting they get daily requests from people wanting water service. “We’re going to continue extending water lines in this county as money becomes available.”

He praised the other members of the water committee for their diligence in working with the cities.

“These two agreements are something we worked on all long, long time it seemed like (it) never was going to come to pass,” he said.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com