Next steps uncertain in Hamilton County sewer controversy after attorney issues gag order

Water, which appears to have sewage mixed in, leaks onto the path of the Champions Golf Course near the Snow Hill pump station in the 7600 block of Snow Hill Road Friday, November 2, 2018 in Ooltewah, Tennessee. Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority workers were clearing a stand pipe at the Snow Hill pump station Friday after clogs caused a massive sewer overflow last weekend.

The sewage plant standoff between the county's wastewater treatment authority and Hamilton County commissioners has pretty much all involved scratching their heads over what to do next.

After commissioners in December denied a special permit for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road, the sewer authority said it would defer any decision on a future site - and the money to pay for it – to the commission.

Instead, officials with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority say they will work to expand capacity in their system, as well as those of Collegedale and Chattanooga, to cope with expected rapid growth and fix leaks and spills under a looming federal consent decree.

That will mean building storage tanks for wastewater and bigger lines to ship the waste to Chattanooga's Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant from existing lines, as well as new ones expected to be needed in the fast-growing area.