13 years later, Tracy City "no contact" water advisory lifted - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

13 years later, Tracy City "no contact" water advisory lifted

Posted: Updated:
TRACY CITY, TN (WRCB) -

People living in one Grundy County town have been under a strict "no contact" order with its main waterway, but after more than a decade, it's changed.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has been working with federal state and local crews to cleanup the water contaminated with sewage in Tracy City.

The Little Fiery Gizzard Creek is the main waterway that cuts through Tracy City and Grundy State Forest. Officials say they knew there were problems with it back in 1999 when folks started complaining of a bad smell and their kids getting sick after playing in it.

"This is a public health issue," TDEC's Dr. Richard Urban said.

When they discovered raw sewage was dumping into the creek, they posted signs and held public meetings to warn everyone to stay away from the water all together.

"To have the water clean is something, I guess people take for granted," Friends of South Cumberland's Mary Priestley said.

With fecal contamination, anyone touching it was at risk for getting sicknesses like Ecoli and Strep to parasites, and dysentery. Officials then tracked the source of the sewage.

"We found out the waste water treatment plant for the elementary school was overloaded," Dr. Urban said.

So they partnered with the town of Monteagle to run a new sewage line there from the school. But, then they discovered the problem stretched beyond that.

"All the businesses and residences were on septic tanks in Tracy City at that time and they were all contributing,"' Dr. Urban said.

That made the sewage project much more extensive and kept the creek closed year after year.

"It was a bad stigma," Dr. Urban said.

It affected tourism numbers for Grundy State Forest. Residents just got used to it.  

"It became a handicap but once everybody was made aware of it, it was more or less something you just couldn't do anymore," Tracy City Mayor Larry Phipps said.

Friday, after thirteen years and over $1 million later, the signs are coming down.

The sewage system was completed two years ago. Friday's water tests show the water has finally rebounded and there are no more traces of contamination.

"Telling the world this is a good place for you to come away from the city to where it's clean, fresh and pristine," Priestley said.

"It took several different mayors, different council people, but they kept the vision and that's the important thing," Dr. Urban said.

Local leaders say they're starting the process of notifying the public that Little Fiery Gizzard Creek is safe to swim and fish in.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Gay soldiers relaxed after restrictions lifted

    Gay soldiers relaxed after restrictions lifted

    The repeal of the military policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and the overturning of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act opened doors more widely to gay people serving openly in the military.More
    The repeal of the military policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and the overturning of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act opened doors more widely to gay people serving openly in the military.More
  • School supplies stolen from 6-year-old

    School supplies stolen from 6-year-old

    Saturday, July 26 2014 11:01 AM EDT2014-07-26 15:01:24 GMT
    Jayce Perez is about to start school at Spring Creek Elementary without the new supplies his mother worked hard to buy him.  More
    Jayce Perez is about to start school at Spring Creek Elementary without the new supplies his mother worked hard to buy him.  More
  • FedEx charges raise online pharmacy issues

    FedEx charges raise online pharmacy issues

    FedEx Corp., the latest shipper to be accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions.More
    FedEx Corp., the latest shipper to be accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions.More
Powered by WorldNow
Can't find what you're looking for?

WRCB-TV
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 267-5412

WRCB Jobs EEO | FCC Public Files

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WRCB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.