Sewer inspections ahead for WWTA customers

A sign indicates work being done along in the 7600 block of Snow Hill Road on Nov. 2 in Ooltewah. The Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority workers were clearing a stand pipe at the Snow Hill pump station.

The state of Tennessee is signing off on a $1.56 million loan that will help Hamilton County's sewer authority check for leaks in its system.

It's a small but important part of some $200 million in repairs and rehabilitation the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority is planning to stop overflows that dump raw sewage into creeks and streams feeding the Tennessee River.

The WWTA is expecting early this year to sign a legal agreement, called a consent decree, mandating that it perform the repairs to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee's attorney general and environmental regulators will monitor the authority's work.

The $200 million rehabilitation plan does not include a $45 million sewage treatment plant the authority had hoped to build in the Mahan Gap Road area.