Calm Under Pressure

Tennessee utility handles unprecedented flooding like any other day at the office.

Calm Under Pressure

First Utility District water plant operator Chris Smith replaces the backflow valve pump at the water treatment plant after the old pump failed. (Photography by Chloe Pool)

First Utility District was ready when a series of heavy downpours drenched Knoxville, Tennessee, in February 2019. Unprecedented flooding inflicted $2 million in damage to district infrastructure, yet the utility reacted much like it does any other day.

“You find out on normal...

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