FUD service area drought free

The Thanksgiving season has passed, and Bruce Giles said it’s an appropriate occasion for town of Farragut, Concord and West Knox County residents to be thankful as First Utility District water customers.

In fact, while many surrounding utilities’ water supplies are running dangerously short during the drought, FUD customers as a whole are watering their lawns and landscaping at a record rate according to Giles, FUD general manager.

“Count your blessings. We’re extremely fortunate because our water supply is the Tennessee River,” Giles said about the utility’s roughly 35,000 customers. “We’re positioned to where we don’t have any real concerns.

“A lot of these systems around the area are struggling because they just don’t have [as reliable a] source to pull from. Their systems are actually going dry,” Giles added.

As opposed to FUD customers cutting back, “We’ve had extremely high demands for this time of year,” Giles said. “The last month, the month of October, we actually produced 200 million gallons more than we did the previous October. It’s just incredible, the demand.

“Normally in October we’ll produce about 300 million … for our customer base. This October we produced over 500 million gallons of water for the month,” he added.

The extra usage “is pure irrigation, people are watering their lawns,” Giles said. “We actually had to expand our water plant just a few years ago just to meet the demand for irrigation. There’s very few systems that say they expand their plant just to meet irrigation needs.

“It would take a lot more drought than this to create a problem on the Tennessee River,” he added. “… Like us and West Knox [Utilities] and KUB, we all have good sources.”

However, “Oneida is having huge problems. … They have a lake they pull from and it’s really low. Alcoa and Maryville, they’re having issues. I believe they’re on the Little Pigeon River,” Giles said. “Fall Creek Falls, over on the Plateau and some of those areas, they have no water right now.”

First Utility District is regulated by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.