Aquifers provide drinking water to 55 thousand people - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Aquifers provide drinking water to 55 thousand people

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In the early 1900s, those that lived in the city of Chattanooga had access to clean drinking water from the Tennessee River. But if you lived in a rural area like Hixson at the time, you did not.
 
Freshwater that lies beneath earth's surface. An aquifer is a porous rock layer, that is saturated by slow water flow. Hixson utility uses two aquifers to serve 16 percent of Hamilton county's population.

The utility's primary aquifer extends from the top of Mowbray mountain down to Middle Valley road.

Engineer Tom Bockman says each aquifer spans at least 1000 acres.

 "When the water falls...from the ground it percolates down, through the ground into the fractured rock. We're able to put pumps into these areas, and pull the water out," says Bockman.

The pumps are man-made wells. Initially, there were two pumps. Today, there are four. The pumps extend down sixty, eighty, eighty-nine, and ninety feet. 

And the water is clear and cool with a temperature around 57 degrees. Depending on where you live, from the ground to your tap, it takes anywhere from five to ninety-six hours for your water to seep through sediment and rock.

Ron West, General Manager of Walden's Ridge Utility District says, "Because I mean, you talk about the far side of the mountain..if you have to drive an hour, you know, it takes it longer to get the water there."

The district pumps about seven and a half million gallons a day. Water is stored for hours, days, even months until it's ready to use. Four fifty-foot towers are currently holding 46 feet of water -- which is typical this time of year. When summer hits levels drop, as water consumption spikes.

Have a weather-related story idea? Feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.

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