Recently, commissioners backed a resolution to apply for a new Community Development Block Grant for the area. It was the fourth application on behalf of the communities.
"We've been turned down for this grant three times before," County Mayor George Jaynes said. "But I think we might have a better chance at getting it this time because we're doing it in conjunction with the city."
The partnership calls for Johnson City to purchase the water from Kingsport for the affected areas.
"This is going to be about a $500,000 grant," Jaynes said. "Johnson City would provide the matching funds and charge low- to medium-income residents for installing the meter."
Tom Witherspoon, Johnson City water/sewer director, said Hartmantown, Greg Hollow and Littleton Road lie north of an existing service area where the city already provides water.
"The problem isn't location. It's that there is a well contamination issue," Witherspoon said. "This resolution will allow the county to apply for any available CDBG grant funds."
Witherspoon said not only are the wells contaminated, but many of them are running dry as well.
"So, it's really a two-pronged problem," he said.
Witherspoon and Jaynes agree the grants will reduce costs for customers, while making the investment by the city a bit more manageable.
"Hopefully, we'll see a bit of an increase in the amount of water we provide and a bit more money after the $500,000 in matching funds," Witherspoon said.
Officials don't expect to get the results of the application back until the fall, which would put construction off until spring 2008 at the earliest.
"What we're looking at is about 16,000 feet of main line," Witherspoon said. "That's a little over three miles."