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Drinking Water Issues In Franklin In Public Eye Again

7/14/2014

Immediate Action Needed! Deadline: Monday, August 18th!

Contact: Robert Baker with the state of Tennessee at Robert.D.Baker@tn.gov

Request: Ask TDEC for a public meeting to discuss the reassessment of the City of Franklin's water withdrawal permit

Deadline: Monday, August 18th

 

  • The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has "determined that a reduction in flow will result in degradation to water quality."

 

  • The City of Franklin already obtains the majority of its drinking water from the Cumberland River by purchasing water from the Harpeth Valley Utilities District (HVUD).

 

  • Right now - the City of Franklin's need for a water withdrawal permit affecting the Harpeth River is being reassessed based on the current state of the Harpeth River and the other drinking water options that the City of Franklin is able to access.

 

  • Let TDEC know that you want a public hearing so your voice can be heard before decisions are made regarding expensive infrastructure that could have devastating effects on our natural resources.

 

The Harpeth River is Too Small to Supply Drinking Water without Suffering Degradation

The water withdrawal permit for the City of Franklin drinking water plant has expired and TDEC is currently reassessing whether or not the City of Franklin still needs a permit to withdraw water from the Harpeth River. TDEC will balance the City of Franklin’s alleged need to withdraw water with the degradation that the withdrawal causes within the Harpeth River.

In the public notice informing citizens about the review of the permit, TDEC states, "In accordance with the Tennessee Antidegradation Statement (Rule 0400-40-03-.06), the division has determined that a reduction in flow will result in degradation to water quality." The city's current withdrawal stresses the Harpeth River.

A public meeting that listens to and informs local residents of these issues needs to be held before TDEC and the City of Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen make important decisions that will affect rate payers and the Harpeth.  The public notice of the permit is a re-issuance of the city's application from 2012.  The state in 2013 issued an updated permit to the city which reduced the amount of the water the city could pull from the river. This did not go into effect because the city and HRWA appealed the new permit.  Details and HRWA's appeal are here which provides detailed history and information.

The City has wanted to build a BIGGER, 4 million gallon per day, drinking water plant on the Harpeth River since 2002. (HRWA's work on this issue and other water withdrawal issues over the past decade can be found in the HRWA website archives.) The Harpeth River is a small river. The current, 2.1 million gallon per day, drinking water plant cannot operate at capacity and only operates at about HALF capacity during the summer. The plant fails to provide drinking water reliably. The chart below details the historical operations of the drinking water plant – almost always below capacity.  Remember, this small drinking water plant is not the city's main source of drinking water.  HVUD is the city's main and 100% supplier when the city's plant is not operational. 

Chart 1: Percent of Capacity Produced by the Franklin’s Drinking Water Plant (2.1MGD), Average(%) Per Month

Year/ Month

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Monthly Avg.

January

100%

95%

79%

67%

73%

89%

84%

February

100%

97%

73%

73%

75%

87%

84%

March

94%

100%

74%

91%

90%

85%

89%

April

100%

90%

88%

97%

86%

44%

84%

May

100%

94%

79%

97%

58%

43%

79%

June

72%

90%

82%

95%

50%

49%

73%

July

45%

62%

56%

70%

55%

41%

55%

August

49%

92%

77%

47%

40%

40%

57%

September

52%

81%

74%

45%

42%

26%

53%

October

49%

98%

75%

72%

28%

57%

63%

November

38%

97%

72%

65%

90%

63%

71%

December

71%

100%

60%

75%

88%

63%

76%

Yearly Avg.

72%

91%

74%

75%

65%

57%

72%

Source: City of Franklin Monthly Operating Reports compiled by the Harpeth River Watershed Association

Based on past economic analysis when the permit was first applied for in 2006, building a new drinking water plant on the Harpeth is more costly than no longer using the Harpeth as a drinking water source.  Access to public documents kept by the City of Franklin is needed in order to update this cost analysis. However, in 2006, the Harpeth River Watershed Association worked with Dr. Bill Wade to conduct economic analysis to correct important errors in the engineering and cost comparisons by the City of Franklin's consultants. Dr. Wade has shown that operating its own drinking water plant does not save the City any money. Dr. Wade's oped ran in the Tennessean on July 1, 2014. A second oped by Dr. Wade ran in the Tennessean on August 5, 2014.

Further, in 2006, HRWA hired AquAeTer to conduct an engineering analysis on the Harpeth River as part of HRWA’s work that helped set the state’s water withdrawal permit issued to the City of Franklin. It was concluded that if one were to ask an engineering firm today if putting a drinking water plant on the Harpeth River were economically feasible, the answer would simply be no.

Additional Information:

July 9, 2014 Tennessean article: Franklin Water Plant Expansion Plan Draws Wave of Criticism

Drinking Water History

Document Archive: 2006-2014