Chattanooga water outage was avoidable, 2008 study suggests
Days after a major water main break in Chattanooga left thousands without water, Channel 3 has learned that it may have been avoidable if recommendations from a 2008 water infrastructure study had been followed.
In 2008, the city of Chattanooga hired an outside company called 'Jacobs' to conduct the study on its water infrastructure systems.
The purpose was to see how prepared the city was in case of an emergency like the water main break that happened on September 12.
Dalton Utilities was not involved in the study, but as Channel 3 mentioned earlier this week, they experienced a similar break.
"As result of that, we started to consider what could we do to anticipate additional failures," Mark Buckner told Channel 3.
The Chattanooga study included three water companies that service the area, including Hixson Utilities, Eastside Utilities and Tennessee American Water (TAW).
Court documents show TAW was the only company that didn't cooperate during the study.
Recommendations from the final report released in 2011 were to purchase and install additional interconnections between their water supplies in case of an emergency.
Buckner says he knows just how crucial those interconnections are during a crisis like the one that took place Chattanooga.
"That really became an important issue for us back during the last severe drought we had back in the 2008 time frame. So we were able to utilize those connections at that point and just reinforce the importance of being able to have those connections," Buckner explained.
The interconnections were never installed. The 'lack of cooperation' from TAW prompted Chattanooga's city attorney to send a formal order to comply, calling it 'a threat to public safety.'
Channel 3 reached out to TAW spokesperson Daphne Kirksey to ask why the company didn't cooperate with that study and why those additional interconnections were not installed.
Channel 3 is still waiting to hear back.
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