For the first time in about 18 months, I had the opportunity to take a vacation. The last time I had planned a real vacation, I came down with a bad fever and had to cancel last minute. However, I finally made it up at the beginning of May to the same location I had intended for that vacation before I became ill: the mountain ridges of Chattanooga, Tenn.
I am an avid cyclist outside the office. I enjoy the freedom it brings me and the mental solitude of riding a route for the first time. Such was my reasoning for going to Chattanooga. I wanted to ride up long steady roads to see the rolling hills of Tennessee from above.
At the top of one of those hills was the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Station, which even has a visitor’s center and museum overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge. Not only was it gorgeous, but I also was fascinated with the facility itself. I did not even know the storage station existed until we got to the top of the mountain.
While not directly tied to the water industry, it does showcase how a utility can use all of its resources together in an interesting way. Water is pumped into the reservoir at the top of the mountain from the Nickajack Reservoir down below, and that reservoir on top of the mountain can hold 107 billion gal of water. During periods of need, the water is released to a massive tunnel bored through the center of the mountain, which drives generators at the bottom through the gravity-fed process.
It would seem, based on some social media posts I have read, that I am not the only one who enjoys seeing these things while on vacation, even if they remind me of work. In fact, I have read some operators and managers of plants specifically request tours of the local water and wastewater treatment plants when they are on vacation so they can learn how regions differ in their treatment needs.
If you have visited a water or wastewater plant on vacation, let us know! We’re always looking for new facilities to feature in our monthly Plant Profile department, and perhaps we could feature the one you saw in person. Send me an email at [email protected] to give me some details.