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Byline: Joe Geraghty
Apr. 22--Until recently, a loss of pressure in the water lines serving the Bristol-Bluff City Utility District could have resulted in water from the Bristol sewage treatment plant flowing back into the system's lines. If that had occurred, it potentially could have contaminated the drinking water that more than 3,000 Sullivan County and Bristol residents rely on every day. That deficiency and more than a dozen others were discovered in a state inspection of the water utility and its records. The inspection, issued last month, resulted in a score of 61 out of a possible 100 points and put the Bristol-Bluff City Utility District on a short list of unapproved water systems in Tennessee.
Safeguards have since been put in place to prevent backflow from the sewage plant, and inspector Gay Irwin of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the utility district's plan to resolve the other problems is the most professional and well-organized she's seen in nine years on the job. Irwin also stressed that while the inspection did turn up a number of procedural and recordkeeping problems, there was never any indication that the quality of drinking water was compromised. "If we only took water quality into consideration, they'd be approved, no question," Irwin said. INSPECTION PROCESS
The inspection looks beyond water quality to ensure proper testing is conducted, proper procedures are followed and extensive records are kept. Irwin said the district lost significant points for failing to maintain appropriate records and specifically spell out important operating procedures. Recent changes to …