The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said Wednesday it will install a new water monitoring system at Cummins Falls within the next 45 days.
The department appeared Wednesday in front of lawmakers and discussed its response to the death of a 2-year-old boy at the state park during a flash flood.
The water monitoring project was initially announced in 2017, but TDEC Commissioner David Salyers says it stalled less than a year later.
Salyers has been in the position for five months, and he says that up until this April, he was working under the assumption that the alarm system was in place.
“I visited Cummins Falls and I was like, ‘Hey, how’s the warning system working?” Salyers told lawmakers. “And he’s like, ‘What warning system?’ So yeah, I was very frustrated at that point.”
Salyers said he is looking into the breakdown in communication between TDEC and Tennessee Tech, which proposed the automated warning system.
Meanwhile, the agency has installed several interim devices that should issue a communication if the water at Cummins Falls rises, but the gorge and trail to the falls will remain closed until the permanent system is installed.
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, stressed out the need to move as quickly as possible. Williams asked TDEC to provide lawmakers from the area with a weekly update on the timeline of the project.
Besides the new monitoring systems, TDEC is also considering implementing a training component for visitors going to the fall, as well as an age requirement.