By Max Hrenda
After learning the cause of contamination in a waterway bordering Washington and Carter counties, one local official thinks the lack of communication between the two could put residents’ safety “up the creek.”
Commissioner Charles Von Cannon told the county’s Health and Welfare Committee Monday night that the city of Johnson City had determined that a leaking sewer line was the source of pollutants, primarily E. coli, in Sinking Creek.
Though the problem was discovered by Johnson City more than a week ago, Von Cannon said he learned of the problem days later by what he said could be described as “good luck.”
“Two of my constituents were calling me about this iridescent sheen on the water,” Von Cannon said. “It’s a very simple test to take a water sample to test for chlorine. Streams don’t have chlorine in them unless you have one of two things, a water leak or a sewer leak.”
After contacting Johnson City, Von Cannon confirmed a sewer line near King Springs Road in Johnson City had become blocked and was leaking into the creek.
Although city officials said the line had been repaired, Von Cannon said he was troubled by the lack of communication between Washington and Carter counties, particularly because the 9.8-mile creek is shared between them.
“Anytime you’ve got a waterway between counties and cities, you need to get your act together,” Von Cannon said. “At least half of this creek is in Washington County, and that’s the problem. There’s no communication between them and us, apparently.”