Tennessee invests billions to improve water infrastructure in 3 key areas

NASHVILLE, TN (WKRN) — We all need water to live, but repairs to Tennessee’s water infrastructure can be costly.

We are talking about $15 billion over time, but the state is taking action. News 2 looked at three key areas that officials want to fix next.

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“Those are the things you don’t really think about until there’s a problem,” said Jenn Tribble, director of policy for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Tribble said the government has poured billions of dollars over the past few years to fix our water systems, but the work is not done yet.

“We’ve really tried to figure out what the most immediate impacts we can have will put water systems on the right track,” Tribble said.

Now the state is focused on three key projects when it comes to water: regionalization, reuse and resource protection. Tied to each category are federal American Recovery Act cash grants.

“It’s going to be a really long-term investment, ongoing work across the state.”

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The first pot of money is $100 million for what water experts call regionalization. Take Sumner County, which experienced a drought last summer and fall. Regionalization will force many small, separate water utilities to work together to save money and conserve water.

“If there is any problem in one system, they can use the neighboring system to support them at that time,” Tribble said.

The second pot of money is $50 million for reuse, which is needed to recycle highly purified wastewater for lawn irrigation. In fact, Murfreesboro is already doing it.

“They have pipe systems in their community that can take that water and use it for things like irrigating sports fields,” Tribble said.

Third, $50 million in resource protection will help build green roofs and plant trees, projects that use the lush green landscape of Middle Tennessee to strengthen our water supply.

Winter storm leaks cause Metro Water Services to lose millions of gallons of water daily.

“How can we use our natural or green systems to increase resilience and resilience across the state… as well as improve water quality in the watershed you are in?” Tribble said.

The state will disburse this grant money to municipalities and utilities over the next year.

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