Residents complain to Chattanooga City Council about sewage storage tank plan

Residents complain to Chattanooga City Council about sewage storage tank plan

July 17th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Signage surrounds the DuPont Pump Station indicating that no one should get near the overflow area Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the corner of Memphis Drive and Elm Street in Chattanooga, Tenn. The key objectives in the DuPont Pump Station overhaul are to prevent stormwater from getting into the sewage network in the first place and increasing the systemճ capacity.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

Chattanooga's efforts to relieve sewage overflows near Hixson Pike have tanked with local residents.

Members of the Fairfax Heights-Bagwell City-Lupton City Neighborhood Association have cried foul over a pair of proposed wet-weather wastewater storage facilities —one at the edge of Memphis Drive, just west of DuPont Parkway, and the other at the southwest corner of the intersection of Lupton Drive and Dixie Drive.

The DuPont proposal calls for a domed 7.5-million-gallon storage tank, measuring 45 feet tall and 210 feet at its base, which will support a nearby sewage pump station. The Lupton Drive tank is a little smaller, with a capacity to hold 7 million gallons of sewage. The projects are part of the city's long-term consent decree agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce sewage overflows into the Tennessee River.

Memphis Drive residents, bearing yard signs opposing the DuPont storage tank plan, recently voiced their complaints to the Chattanooga City Council.

North Shore residents Ronnie McGill, at podium, and Mark Mullins ask the Chattanooga City Council to stop the proposed construction of a 7.2-million-gallon sewage overflow tank next to their neighborhood.

North Shore residents Ronnie McGill, at podium, and...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

"I live beside this disaster," Ronnie McGill said about the pump station. "I'm just a common man. I've dealt with this thing for 25 years and now you're going to put this holding tank beside my house."

Danny Grimmett, another Memphis Drive resident, said he had "a heavy heart" knowing he and his neighbors would face a tough challenge when it came time to sell their homes with the tank in their backyard.

"Our home are going to be devalued," Grimmett said.

Grimmett and Mark Mullins, who serves as the neighborhood association president, both asked the council to vote on a motion to delay the storage tank's construction until the city could find a better place for the facility.

Justin Holland, administrator for Chattanooga's Department of Public Works, said last month the Memphis Drive site was the most efficient place for the tank, estimated to cost $12 million.

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"Moving the tank to another location nearby would require millions of dollars in additional funding and significant delays in the capacity assurance program that was approved earlier in the year by the EPA as part of the consent decree," Holland said.

McGill called for placing the storage tank on the other side of DuPont Parkway, near McKamey Animal Shelter.

"It's going to cost another $1 million or $2 million, so what?" McGill said. "It should have been put there to begin with."

Council Chairman Jerry Mitchell, who represents the neighborhoods, could not be reached for comment by email or phone Friday.

Earlier, Mitchell described the public input process for the storage tank placement as "terrible," because community feedback is sought after planners give the green light.

He made the comment during a Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission meeting when that panel considered the proposed purchase of 3.32 acres of Lupton Drive property for the other tank.

Mullins, also at that meeting, said residents would "wholeheartedly" oppose the location and accused the city not doing its "due diligence."

City real property coordinator Gail Hart called for the Lupton Drive matter to be deferred.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.

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