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Cleveland Utilities General Manager Tom Wheeler

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Planning has begun toward laying nearly 15 miles of water lines to meet Cleveland's future needs.

On Thursday, the Cleveland Utilities board of directors approved preliminary planning contracts with GRW Engineers Inc. and Arcadis U.S. Inc., the two companies involved in the project.

"This is just the start of something that will be really needed by Cleveland and parts of Bradley County," utility general manager Tom Wheeler said.

The entire project is expected to cost about $9 million and take about six years.

A 2004 master plan concluded that water demand would increase by 5 million gallons a day by 2025, said Philip Luce, Cleveland Utilities' engineering manager.

Water division manager Craig Mullinax said Thursday's water demand was 9.3 million gallons. But the need is higher in summer, he said, citing figures of 13.7 million in July 2010 and 12.8 million in August 2010.

A growth study last year for Cleveland and Bradley County projects 33,000 more people, 14,000 new households and 19,000 new jobs by 2035.

"Put both those plans together and you can see that water needs in our system will increase quite a bit," Luce said.

From the 2004 master plan, Cleveland Utilities expanded the capacity of the Hiwassee Utilities Commission water plant in Charleston to 2.1 million gallons a day.

"But we need the distribution system to work with that," Mullinax said. "That's what this project is about."

A 16-inch water line already has been installed from the plant along Lauderdale Memorial Highway and a new water tank placed on the ridge above exit 33 on Interstate 75.

The "big dig" will include a 12-inch line from Lauderdale Highway south to Paul Huff Parkway, expanding a water line on Candies Creek Ridge Road and placing a new water tank near Georgetown Road.

Those projects are already in the budget, Luce said.

A new line also will be dug from the Charleston plant south along North Lee Highway, Old Charleston Road, Urbane Road and Old Tasso Road to 20th Street. Then the line follows APD 40 around town to Elkins Drive.

The 15-mile line will be done in two phases.

GRW Engineers Inc. will design the south phase, from 20th Street to Elkins Drive, for $107,500. Arcadis will do the engineering design work for the north side, from the Hiwassee Utilities plant south to 20th Street, under a $175,000 contract.

The current Cleveland Utilities budget includes $150,000 for the design work. The rest will be paid from the 2011-2012 budget.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.