Nov 5 2007

The Maryville Daily Times has an update on all the work by the City of Alcoa and the City of Maryville to provide water for residents and the success of customer conservation efforts.

With the new pipeline running from the impounded part of Little River, Alcoa is in better shape. Maryville is still facing problems, and there's no rain in the forecast.

I found this quote from the article to be a little odd:

Maryville City Manager Greg McClain said, “Maryville and Alcoa have plenty of water now. What we’re dealing with are regulatory restrictions. We can get the water.”

Plenty of water? Has anybody gone out there and looked at Little River where the water treatment plants are or gone up what used to be the Y in Townsend?

He goes on the explain:

The city plans to try to get the cfs lowered because Alcoa now has a 16-million-gallon-a-day plant instead of a 24-million-gallon-a day plant. Part of Maryville’s cfs designation is based on the fact that there must be enough water left in the river past the Maryville plant to supply the Alcoa plant downstream.

In this context his remarks make a little more sense, as long as Alcoa would in fact have "plenty of water" downstream. On the other hand, it sounds like Alcoa might have actually, you know, planned for the future when they got their permit.

I don't know the guy, and maybe he's a Democrat and a paragon of progressive government, but "there's plenty of water, it's just a regulatory problem" sounds like more right-wing free market voodoo policy making.

The same article quotes assistant Maryville director of water quality control Jack Graham as saying the previous record low flow for Little River was 51 cfs in 1952. It was 41 Friday. That doesn't sound like plenty of water to me. And no amount of deregulation is going to make it rain or put more water in the river.

I certainly hope Alcoa does

I certainly hope Alcoa does not go along with Maryville's plan to change the required cfs for the City of Alcoa. It seems to me Alcoa is planning for the future and Maryville has not. Let Alcoa sell water to Maryville and not give up their current water level rights.

How late is too late?

I think with our water supply, if you are questioning whether or not there is problem, there is a problem. This late in the year, I would rather have dead plants than a dead water faucet. I don't want to shut down anyone's business, but I think all elective watering should cease until the drought ends. Maybe the local press could also do some features on day to day ways of conserving.

Year round restrictions

I agree, no restrictions were in place until the water dropped below the state requirements. One thing that should be year round, is restaurants setting a glass of water for every customer. I seldom drink the water and it seems people who do, drink bottled water.

Das Drought

There is a system of rivers underneath the Brown Smear, over the Appalachias, in the picture below; that depend on the tributaries from mountainous regions for their water. These tributaries are drying up. It is at a critical state. The 'rain cycle' has been damaged--maybe even beyond repair. Development with Mother Nature in mind is not just a good idea anymore, it is a neccesity. The Coal Fire power plants, must seek cleaner fuels. The massive number of Airports spewing filth in the air, must be moved out in favor of Passenger Rail Service.

viva Evo Morales

The Great Lakes

Great graphic presentation of the problem BeyondLeft, thanks.

See all that nice blue FRESH water in the picture called the Great Lakes? Well, after fighting the state of MI and Internation mining companies for 3 years we left MI for TN. Why fight the state and mining? There's GOLD in Upper MI and come hell or high (even low) water they are going get it out of the ground!!

The Great Lakes is 90% of this nation's fresh water supply and 23% of the world's fresh water...with gold mining comes that wonderful cyanide leaching process, acid rain, and the same polluted water that you find in the western states. Lobbyists have managed to take a 58 page metallic mineral regulation down to 8 pages.

If ever there was a real concern for fresh water in the future - it lies with the Great Lakes as much as those rivers and streams in the Appalachias.

Au mining

Thanks, KT. I'm afraid of what's gonna happen with our environment (specifically here) if we do nothing at all, to repair the situation. On a side note: as far as the Gold, I wish I'd converted my savings to Gold last month, checked out the dollar lately?

viva Evo Morales


Our water situation has made me realize how clueless I am with regards to what comes out of my faucet...The story about this being a regulatory problem makes no sense to me...and I don't understand how the new pipeline fixed the situation so that restrictions were lifted. Maryville city leaders make a lot of good decisions for our city, and in the interest of being positive (in my life and on this blog) I'm assuming this is a good decision that I'm just unable to wrap my head around. Still, my inclination trust but verify (sorry for the R.R. expression...but it is a good one)

If anyone has some resources about water (in the eastern US) that would help clue me in, will you please post them?

The story about this being a

The story about this being a regulatory problem makes no sense to me...

The City of Maryville is claiming they should not have to maintain such a high water level (37 cfs or greater) for their intake.
Maryville takes water out of Little River above where Alcoa takes water out of Little River.
Maryville is saying the "regulation" of 37 cfs or greater is based on the City of Alcoa needing and using a higher level of water than they can and do use.
And of course it makes no sense. Maryville is hurting for water. Maryville has no plan to get more water. Maryville is making it someone elses problem. e.g. the City of Alcoa and the regulations.

and I don't understand how the new pipeline fixed the situation so that restrictions were lifted.

The pipeline added a lot more water to the City of Alcoa's intake.
The pipeline raised the level of water above Alcoa's intake.
More water, no restrictions.

Theoretically, the pipeline does not affect water restrictions for Maryville except that Alcoa may sell them some of the extra capacity due to the pipeline.

What is the condition of the

What is the condition of the Little River past the intake points? Since we moved here from the parched southwest I really thought the intake levels were geared for the requirements of those living downstream- like they do just about everywhere else.


Fortunately, the Fort Loudon Lake impoundment backs up into Little River not too much further downstream from their intakes. That's how Alcoa was able to get a pipe in so quickly.

I'm a little concerned about the extra treatment it might need, though. We got a Pur filter for our faucet. Coffee tastes better already.

Taking and giving

While they are taking water downstream and putting it in upstream, it still seems like the water level would be the same at the intake. But it appears more water is in the river upstream. To me it seems like they are playing regulatory games. Of course, now blame it on regulations versus some decent forethought.

By the way, I know at the Maryville plant they had a holding pond that failed and last I saw they looked liked they were tearing it apart or rebuilding it. If this pond was in place would the water problems be as "bad: as they are?

It is my understanding that

It is my understanding that PART of the water problem we face here in Maryville is exacerbated by the discovery that the holding pond to retain excess water had been found to have a MAJOR leak and any water retained in it was flowing very freely back into the Little River. I think this was for already treated water.

They have filled the pond in and doesn't look like there's a plan to replace the pond?

that's my impression

I would think that would be a good question for the daily times to ask. yes, the holding pond breached (washing out some crops) and it does look like they filled it in.

A few years ago I read an article about industrial waste in the

A few years ago I read an article about industrial waste in the Little River. I wish I could search the newspaper, but it had somethiing to do with a uniform company dumping its "treated" wastewater in the river. This apparently is permitted, but the wastewater had the potential of contianing solvents and some heavy metals.

Not sure exactly where the new intake is in realtion to this, and I may be completely mistaken in my recollection. Does anyone recall this?

In any case, I would think that the lower intake's water would be at more risk since as it gets closer to Alcoa and more industrialized areas.

We'll beef up our filter(s) as well

lower intake

No recollection on the uniform company story. However, from what I've seen of the new Alcoa intake site in relation to the actual treatment facility, I don't think there is much in between the two locations but agriculture and cattle grazing. Obviously, this can add a variety of additional contaminants to the water, but I don't think there are any industrial sites on that stretch.

Y'all may be thinking of the

Y'all may be thinking of the old Rockford Glove Factory? I think it's further down the river from either intake, but I don't remember exactly. I do remember hauling my little fishing boat over their weir dam.

Meanwhile, there is no

Meanwhile, there is no requirement that developers "out in the county" where there is no public water system demonstrate that there is adequate water available for the use of the people who build and buy. This is especially an issue for mountain developments that depend on more and more wells being drilled. So people who live here already and have wells just sit there while many more wells are punched into the same aquifer. Adequate water is not required for developments to be permitted. We should have a water resources audit and plan, but that is probably just too much government for Our Leaders.

Patches and Bandages

Aren't these merely patches to fix the problem until next year? What if our levels are even lower next year? The amount of water, on this sphere we live on, is constant, i.e. the water isn't ever used up. So, the theory is that we use water in our house, it goes to a field line, or sewer, evaporates through the soil, sunlight brings it to the heavens, it condenses, and rains. It don't rain here anymore. So the majority of our water leaves downstream. The mountains aren't being re-plenished. We might ought to think about major water conservation / recycling efforts, to keep our County afloat. Get some tree huggers together and deliver some reports, as to what we can do to reduce our H2O footprint. It's fairly obvious what to do to fix the 'rain cycle': Reduce the consumption of Electricity, and reduce the carbon emissions.

viva Evo Morales

It was 41 Friday. That

It was 41 Friday. That doesn't sound like plenty of water to me.

To put it into perspective, 41 cfs would easily flow through a 36-inch diameter drainage pipe. That ain't much of a river.

Our water footprint

There are many good web sites that have suggestions on what to do to change ones water usage. A good place to start is: (link...)

It's amazing when you realize that 3% of fresh water is used by cities (that's our needs), 4% by industry, and 93% by agriculture. Did you know that it is estimated that it takes over 2,000 GALLONS of water to put ONE POUND of beef on our table!

For a good understandable discription of "water footprint" here's a web page: (link...)


  • US - 660,000 gallons (large because of all the imports -external footprint - we purchase)
  • CHINA - 185,000 gallons (small because they make what they need and rely on very little imports)
  • JAPAN - 304,000 gallons

Looking back, planning forward

From our friends at the Hellbender Press circa 2000


Water: we take it for granted. In East Tennessee, we turn grouchy when meteorologists predict two days of rain in a row. We're water-rich, right?
Wrong. Occasional drought and rapid development are putting pressures on local public water suppliers, who in this part of the state rely primarily on surface water to quench the thirst of their customers.

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