US Nitrogen and the Old Knox Highway Utility District reached a deal today concerning a flat rate per gallon at which the company would buy water from Old Knox.
The water would originate with the Greeneville Water Department and come to the US Nitrogen plant at Midway through a new pipeline that the company has proposed to build and give to the utility district.
The Old Knox Utility District, like most other local water utility districts, buys its water from the Greeneville Water Commission and re-sells it to the utility district customers.
Old Knox board president Butch Shaw contacted The Greeneville Sun this afternoon to announce the verbal agreement with US Nitrogen.
“We’re excited about it,” Shaw said. “This is just what we wanted to do.”
The agreement could mean a significant step forward for the future of the US Nitrogen plant — as well as a significant step away from the controversial double-pipeline proposal that has prompted objections from some environmental groups and from many individuals living near or on the Nolichucky River in Greene and Cocke counties.
For the last several months, amid growing grassroots opposition related to the river and property along it, the company has been focused on the proposal for a double-pipeline from the plant site at Midway to the Nolichucky River several miles away to the west.
Under that proposal, one of the two US Nitrogen pipelines would have brought raw water from the river to the plant for use in cooling the plant’s industrial operations. The second of the two pipelines would have been used to return the cooling water to the river.
Shaw said that C&C Millwright Maintenance Co. President Jerry Fortner, acting as a representative for US Nitrogen, first presented a proposal from the company to Shaw on Monday morning.
According to Shaw, details of the proposal include US Nitrogen’s paying for the water line installation from the plant site to the Greeneville Water Department’s current meter connection for Old Knox, then giving the new pipeline to the utility district.
US Nitrogen also proposed to pay for the maintenance of the pipeline by Old Knox once it is built, he said.
Shaw presented the US Nitrogen proposal to the utility district’s board on Monday evening.
The board responded at the meeting by adopting two options for rates at which they would charge US Nitrogen to distribute the water to the company through the new pipeline that would be built.
Shaw said in a telephone interview about 3:15 p.m. that he presented the two options on rates to Fortner this morning.
“It wasn’t an hour-and-a-half before they called me back and said, ‘You’ve got a deal,’” Shaw said.
“Their biggest concern was the water,” he added. “According to their statements to me today, we’ve got that worked out.”
In order to have a complete alternative to the double-pipeline to the river, the company must now negotiate a deal between itself, the Town of Mosheim and possibly the Greeneville Water Commission for treatment of the plant’s water outflow.