More than 1,400 miles of pipe — and growing!

If you like geography, you’ll love this story. Because a city that has grown as fast as Murfreesboro has – from a population of 40,000 in 1991 to 135,000 in 2018 – can only manage change with a plan for infrastructure that provides safe drinking water to every home and business in our county.

Consolidated Utility District (CUD) is a large water utility system that reaches more than 58,000 customers through a network of 20 booster pump stations, 12 water tanks, and 20 pressure zones. Our service area contains more than 1,400 miles of pipe – which is greater than the distance from Murfreesboro to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

According to CUD’s Director of Engineering, Alan Stuemke, “As the county grows, so does the need for water. Before any structure – residential or commercial – is built, we evaluate our ability to provide water for domestic use and fire protection to serve people’s needs.  We review submittals for all new developments and commercial meters, and we sign off on the associated plats within our service area. Our water quality group checks chlorine levels and maintains automatic blow-offs because if water sits too long the quality degrades.”

By partitioning Rutherford County into pressure zones, CUD can carry out its water service strategy on a daily basis. The first and most important pressure zone is the K. Thomas Hutchinson Water Treatment Plant (WTP).

The WTP supplies water to three massive storage tanks – Baker Road, Mooreland Lane, and Two Hills – that have a combined capacity of 10 million gallons of water.  This comprises almost half of the 22 million gallons of water storage in the entire distribution system.

Water leaves the WTP and travels in three different directions: Southeasterly down Central Valley Road to Highway 231 North; Southerly parallelling I-840 to Shacklett Road where it splits and one branch continues southerly to the I-24/Fortress Boulevard interchange and the other branch goes easterly along Cherry Lane, Highway 231 North, and East Compton Road to Lascassas Pike; and from the Buckeye Bottom area southwesterly along Florence Road and eventually to the Veterans Parkway and I-840 interchange.

You could call the WTP Pressure Zone the ‘great-great-grandmother of all pressure zones’ since it supplies water to eight other pressures zones (her children), which then supply water to six other pressure zones (her grandchildren), which then supply water to three other pressure zones (her great-grandchildren), which supply one final pressure zone (her great-great-grandchild).

The second most significant pressure zone is Rucker Lane.  It is supplied by the McElroy Pump Station and the Twin Oak Pump Station and supplies water to the Tiger Hill tank and Halls Hill tank, plus five other pressure zones.

The primary pressure zones are listed in the following table with their respective size, customer counts and customer density.  Those not listed serve a very small area and a very limited number of customers.

As explained by CUD’s Director of Engineering Alan Stuemke: “Pump stations move water across the system by increasing the pressure, especially at higher elevations. Sometimes the number of customers doesn’t justify a new tank, so a small pump station runs continuously to increase the pressure to serve the area.”

“We use a geographic information system (GIS) to give our Engineering Department the right data for the hydraulic model that drives the water service evaluations as well as decisions about placement of new pump stations, new tanks, and other water main improvements.  The GIS is also used by the Operations Department for the daily maintenance of the water distribution system; the network of pipes, valves service taps, meters, etc.,” said Bethany Hall, GIS Coordinator for CUD.

“With GIS, our employees can see what they need to do. Our Explorer app can give us visuals down to ground level so we can see exactly what size of pipe is underground. We can see the street, terrain, topography, lot number, and address.”