​SUD Approves EMA Antenna on Water Tank

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Scott Smith from the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) addressed the SUD board at the Aug. 28 meeting, requesting permission to mount a radio antenna on the SUD farm tank.
The EMA received funding to improve connectivity in the county, Smith said. The proposed six-site simulcast system will allow county-wide communication for law enforcement and other responders. A communication from any given site will be heard at all the other sites and all sites will be able to respond. With the present system, sometimes only one-way communication is possible, according to Smith.
“The proposed site on the water tank will cover Roark’s Cove and Cowan,” Smith said. An antenna tower being erected on the Old CCC Road in the Jump Off community will cover the rest of the mountaintop.
Smith stressed facilitating county-wide communication was “critical to law enforcement.” Coincident with the area’s population growth “call rates are way up.”
The six-site plan will also make the county ready to adopt digital technology. “Digital weakens the signal so it takes more sites,” Smith said.
Speaking to possible concerns, SUD manager Ben Beavers said OSHA regulations prohibited obstructions on the ladder, but OSHA compliant mounting brackets were available. Beavers also stressed the contract with the EMA would need to stipulate the EMA was responsible for making any adaptations necessary for SUD to maintain the tank and for restoring the site to its original condition if the equipment was no longer used.
In addition to the antenna, the proposal calls for an 8 feet by 12 feet metal equipment building within the water tank’s fenced perimeter.
The board voted to approve the concept, with final approval contingent on review of the contract and related documents.
“It’s a good public service thing,” Beavers said in support of the decision. “It won’t help SUD in particular, but the entire county will benefit.”
Updating the board on the waterline replacement project, Beavers said the contractor was running a little behind, but expected to complete the project on schedule. The section most likely to impact students was already completed. Shrubs and gravel disturbed by the construction will be replaced. “The most frequent comment I’m hearing from customers is about how clean the construction site is,” Beavers said.
In response to the board’s charge to perform a cross-connection survey of all commercial customers to determine if the customer needed to install a backflow prevention device, Beavers identified 59 accounts. He expects to complete the inspections before the end of the year. “Six of the 59 already have backflow prevention devices,” Beavers noted. Among those slated for inspection were several institutional customers, Beavers said.
Looking to possible outcomes, Beavers suggested that if more than 60 percent of the commercial accounts inspected needed backflow prevention devices, the board should consider a policy change “requiring the devices for all commercial customers. If it’s only 10-15 percent, the policy is likely adequate.” The current policy requires backflow prevention devices in any situation where there is a possibility of drinking water contamination by fluid from outside sources.
Beavers provided the board with a draft of the revised South Cumberland Regional Drought Plan. Beavers revised the document on behalf of the four area water utilities. Different from the original drought plan, created following the drought of 2007, the revised plan allows the individual utilities to set their own trigger points for water-use restriction and rate changes to accommodate drought management. Like the original plan, the revised plan stipulates if one utility declares a need for voluntary or mandatory restricted water usage, the other utilities will follow the same practice.
The SUD board meets next on Sept. 25.