Tennessee Town Has Run Out of Water
by Greg Bluestein
ORME, Tenn. (AP) — As twilight falls over this Tennessee town, Mayor Tony Reames drives up a dusty dirt road to the community's towering water tank and begins his nightly ritual in front of a rusty metal valve.
With a twist of the wrist, he releases the tank's meager water supply, and suddenly this sleepy town is alive with activity. Washing machines whir, kitchen sinks fill and showers run.
About three hours later, Reames will return and reverse the process, cutting off water to the town's 145 residents.
The severe drought tightening like a vise across the Southeast has threatened the water supply of cities large and small, sending politicians scrambling for solutions. But Orme, about 40 miles west of Chattanooga and 150 miles northwest of Atlanta, is a town where the worst-case scenario has already come to pass: The water has run out.
The mighty waterfall that fed the mountain hamlet has been reduced to a trickle, and now the creek running through the center of town is dry.
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He says the crisis in Orme could serve as a warning to other communities to conserve water before it's too late.
"I feel for the folks in Atlanta," he says, his gravelly voice barely rising above the sound of rushing water from the town's tank. "We can survive. We're 145 people. You've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought."