The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority will soon begin work to expand its sewer system in preparation for the growth coming to the East Hamilton area.
Last month, WWTA announced its eligibility to receive $7,616,500 in loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a federal/state partnership that finances a wide range of water infrastructure projects.
The money will be used to fund three different projects throughout Hamilton County, including design work for sewer infrastructure in the Ooltewah area. The designs are expected to cost $582,500.
The plans will be used to increase the capacity of the area's three wastewater pump stations, located on Lee Highway, Green Gap Road and Roy Lane. Plans will also be drawn for a new force main to be constructed along Mountain View Road.
The projects will enable the sewer system to handle more wastewater flow, readying it for the hundreds of additional homes expected to be built between now and 2040, said WWTA Executive Director Mark Harrison.
"We have to make sure that as growth occurs and new developments occur, the capacity for that growth is there so we don't have overflows," he explained. "Sewer plays an important role in the growth of any community, and having these funds allows us to support expected growth."
The project will also allow WWTA to reroute sewage flow away from Collegedale's pump station, Harrison said.
In 2015, Collegedale issued a moratorium that stopped sewage coming from outside the city's limits from exceeding 52 percent of its pump station's total flow. The suspension was enacted after WWTA's average wastewater flow steadily increased from 7 percent of total flow to 52 percent.
"Our growth was impacting their ability to grow, so redirecting our sewer will allow more room for growth in Collegedale, as well as in North Ooltewah," Harrison said.
In addition to the $7.6 million, Harrison said WWTA will be applying for $6 million to $12 million more in loans over the next several years to address needs throughout the county. Borrowing money to pay for the projects allows the utility to manage its rates, preventing drastic increases, Harrison added.
"We are excited about these funds and will be good stewards to make sure we continue to meet the needs of an ever-changing community," he said.
Work on the pump stations is expected to begin later this summer. Harrison said the work may result in lane closures