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Front Page - Friday, September 18, 2020

WWTA increasing sewer rate Oct. 1

The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority is increasing sewer fees 12% to begin to meet the financial obligations of an accelerated work plan, according to a news release from the WWTA. The rate increase will take effect Oct. 1.

With numerous sewer projects already in progress across Hamilton County and more to come, the cost of the work is significant, says WWTA Board Chairman Dick Gee.

“The Hamilton County sewer system typically experiences over 200 weather-related sewer overflows each year. The overflows can contaminate local streams and potentially pose a public health risk. Addressing the issue is costly; however, it’s the right thing to do and it’s a requirement of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act,” Gee explains.

The WWTA has been in negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency for more than five years to enter into a consent decree that will provide a legal settlement and a work plan to address sanitary sewer overflows in Hamilton County.

As with other metropolitan areas across the state and country that have entered similar agreements, the WWTA anticipates the duration of the consent decree will be between 15 and 20 years, with a significant portion of the work occurring in the first 10 years.

The primary requirement of the consent decree is an accelerated work plan, according to the WWTA. In anticipation of the decree, sewer rehabilitation projects are underway in East Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Ooltewah, Red Bank and Soddy Daisy. Additional projects are in the planning stage that will correct significant deficiencies on Signal Mountain.

WWTA Executive Director Michael Patrick says the WWTA has worked to keep sewer fees as low as possible throughout its history but is at the point where it can no longer put off making significant improvements to its sewer infrastructure.

“Some of the most important components of our modern society are the investments that previous generations have made in our water and sewer infrastructure. Those investments were not easy then and certainly are not easy now. However, it’s time for us to do our part for ourselves as well as for future generations.”

In the coming months, the WWTA will announce projects it is undertaking to “provide a safe and reliable sanitary sewer system” for Hamilton County, adds Patrick.

The WWTA is responsible for the public sewer system throughout the unincorporated areas of Hamilton County and the surrounding municipalities of East Ridge, Lakesite, Lookout Mountain, Red Bank, Ridgeside, Signal Mountain and Soddy Daisy.

The WWTA regulates the expansion of sewers and compliance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act as well as other federal, state and local laws.

Created in 1993 by the Hamilton County Commission, the WWTA is composed of over 500 miles of collection lines, 60 pump stations, 900 grinder pumps and one wastewater treatment facility, and provides services for more than 30,000 customers.

Source: WWTA