BOE advised towards in-house water system for Clinch School rather than public water access

The BOE agreed to explore a new, in-house water filtration system for Clinch School rather than extending public water from the nearby utility district. This measure would repair the Clinch School well that has been malfunctioning for some time.

Director of Schools Matt Hixson told the BOE at their January meeting that he was advised against extending water utility lines from a nearby utility district to Clinch School after meeting with several water treatment professionals. The process would be costly, and the water wouldn’t even be fresh upon arrival at the school. Instead, the BOE will look into a different in-house water system.

At the December BOE meeting, the board heard a proposal from Mattern and Craig for a new water filtration system that would replace Clinch School’s malfunctioning well.

Hawkins Co. Energy Specialist Brandon Williams told the BOE in December that there have been problems with the Clinch well for quite a while, and most of them stem from an electricity issue and the control system that operates the well.

Clinch is also the only school in the entire county that uses a well rather than public water.

Before agreeing to spend between $275,000 and $412,000 for one of the filtration system options suggested by Mattern and Craig, the BOE voted in December to have Hixson explore bringing public water access from nearby Sneedville to the school.

Board member Bob Larkins noted at the December meeting that the BOE met with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Sneedville Water District around two years ago to look into bringing public water from Sneedville to Clinch School and the surrounding areas.

Clinch School is roughly six miles away from the Sneedville Water District, and, according to Larkins, the District was interested in providing water to the school at the time. However, it would cost roughly $6 million to run the water line to the school.

Both Larkins and Chairman Chris Christian suggested that Hixson look into the possibility of the new water line and approach the County Commission to ask for a financial partnership in the project.

However, Hixson explained at the January meeting that there are quite a few downsides to this option.

Hixson met with Lakeview Utility District manager Tim Carwile, along with several of Carwile’s board members, his engineer, several of his employees and Sneedville water district members.

Carwile and his consultants explained that this project could range in cost from $2 million to $4 million “due to the terrain,” as Hixson said.

“The water would probably be significantly old before we were able to draw from it if you consider where it was being drawn from and then time spent in that pipe before it gets to Clinch School,” Hixson added. “That is quite the time period.”

He went on to explain that the water would then likely have to treated and re-tested at the school to ensure it was safe to drink.

“His (Carwile’s) opinion was to encourage me to reach out to another individual that has a water treatment system that probably would work for Clinch and save a significant amount of money.”

Hixson plans to meet with this individual to look into this in-house water treatment option and invited any interested board members to accompany him.