Chattanooga, Tennessee, Receives Storm & Sewer Improvements

March 7, 2022

The $337 million in improvements will specifically address overflows and adhere to the terms of the city’s consent decree

Storm water and sewer infrastructure investments are underway for Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The improvements will specifically address overflows and adhere to the terms of the city’s consent decree. The city has ongoing projects that will mitigate overflows of Chattanooga’s sanitary sewer system into the Tennessee River, reported The Chattanoogan.

"In addition to the environmental benefits, these improvements will allow Chattanooga to continue to welcome new residents while protecting the Scenic City’s critical outdoor resources for future generations to enjoy,” said officials, reported The Chattanoogan.

The projects include storm water storage, upgrades to Chattanooga’s wastewater plant, and the replacement of old equipment. Tennessee entered into the consent decree with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the EPA approximately 10 years ago.  

Chattanooga’s old sewer system combined both sewage and the city’s rainfall into one system, which was repeatedly overflowing into the Tennessee River, reported The Chattanoogan. This directly violates the federal Clean Water Act by contaminating the Tennessee River.

Upgrades also include: an oxygen plant replacement, a wet weather treatment upgrade; a solids process optimization implementation at the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant; and a system-wide sanitary sewer overflow abatement program.

As a result of these issues, Chattanooga created an agreement that was reached between local and federal governments to spread the project over the course of 20 years, under a new funding plan. So far, Chattanooga is roughly halfway through the project, reported The Chattanoogan.

Under the funding plan, the city will move forward with an application process which can award up to $186 million in extremely low-interest loans to finance several large projects related to wastewater infrastructure. 

EPA invited Chattanooga to apply for these funds, which are available through the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA). 

The city also seeks other funding sources, including State Revolving Loan Funds and cash from its enterprise sewer fund in order to fuel the remaining $165 million in improvements. 

“Chattanooga’s precious outdoor resources are its greatest competitive advantage, and innovative financing solutions like these are critical as we work to preserve our environment for future generations to enjoy,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, reported The Chattanoogan. “These low-interest loans, which are available to us thanks to our commitment to clean water, will allow us to make much-needed improvements, while maintaining low rates for Chattanooga residents.”

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Cristina Tuser

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