Ooltewah Has Lost Confidence In The WWTA - And Response

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The residents of the North Ooltewah neighborhoods are very concerned about the WWTA proposing to build a new sewage treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road. This location is one of 10 potential sites and is in our back yards and for 1,000 homes it is within a mile of their homes. We were here first and for many they have settled here for many years on their family property and/or retirement homes. The proposed site is not currently zoned for industrial use; however the WWTA is attempting to obtain a special exemption from the Planning Commission on November 12 so they can build a plant in an existing wetlands area and in the 100-year flood plain.


The WWTA has performed a very cursory conceptual design review and rough economic analysis (back of an envelope type study were the WWTA description). They have only shared a few pieces of information that supports the site selection at Mahan Gap.

WWTA says the Mahan Gap site costs of the plant would be somewhat lower than for the other plants sites. It is difficult to understand how the analysis can really determine what the cost difference is when (1) the design has not been defined (2) the detailed engineering review was a “Table Top” review without a site visit and their cost estimates for conceptual designs are typically + or – 25% at best. So without more detailed analysis how can WWTA establish the best location?

There were supposedly 10 total sites reviewed, but they have only shared two others. The impacts on for the other sites have less impact on residents and much less risk to the environment in case of accidents and spills at a new plant.  A copy of the Consulting Engineers report has been requested but not produced yet. The residents have asked to be involved in the analysis similar to other communities recently where a mutual site location was found by working together. WWTA has declined to allow any of us to be involved.

We have been told in public meetings that no consideration was given to the impacts on property values for the 1,000 residential homes near the proposed site. When the consultant was questioned about this he said if we could produce a study then they would look at it. Why is it the resident’s responsibility to produce a report on property value impacts? Why it is that WWTA does not consider the impacts to residential property values, quality of life for the local residents and the protection of the environment as important enough to be included in the analysis?

The to the answer the questions about WWTA not permitting the residents involvement in the process and  their lack of empathy or compassion for us can be observed by the way WWTA treats their existing customers and the environment.

The WWTA has been criticized for many years for the uncaring attitude they have for their existing customers. The WWTA is misguided in their beliefs that the only thing their customers care about is lower cost. Their customers also care about being easy to work with, having input in the policies and procedures the WWTA imposes on contractors and customers and the environmental impacts from WWTA poor performance.

The residents of North Ooltewah do not want sewage treatment plant in our back yard because we have lost all confidence in the WWTA to build a plant that will not intrude on our lives with “Stink”, “noise”, traffic impacts, hazardous materials in the air and in our waterways. The proof is in the data:

The WWTA has had 29 (TDEC) reportable spills in the Ooltewah area alone during late 2017 thru Sept. 2018. The causes for the spills were initially identified as heavy rain fall infiltrating the sewage piping. The data does not support that conclusion since most of the spills were in the dryer fall periods as can be seen in the included charts. Eventually the WWTA has identified the recent higher frequency of spills is due to the repeat pump failures from pluggage from “Improper materials” being flushed by their customers. When are they going to address the real causes and stop blaming their customers?

The inability of the WWTA to resolve the overflows in the Ooltewah area is just a clear indication they are not capable of managing their existing system.  If the system is older and worn out, why is that the customers fault? WWTA is an autonomous organization that has been given the responsibility for providing sewer service. They have been in charge of this service for many years and have allowed it to deteriorate to the point it is difficult to maintain. So stop placing the responsibility on the customer you are supposed to serve, and start accepting the responsibility for the system and the failures.  Maybe you should include the customers in resolving problems and consider treating people with some respect, empathy and compassion and I believe your job will be much easier.

The following was written Mike Moon Chairman of the Board WWTA:

“Our mission of providing reliable, courteous and low-cost sewer service is one we take seriously. We’ve been working for several years with the EPA as well as TDEC and others on a comprehensive plan to address the issues surrounding bypasses that occur during significant weather events at the Signal Mountain Treatment Plant.  We self-report these instances to the appropriate agencies. This particular plant is handicapped by size as well as geography, but infiltration and inflow from the collection system is the real issue. We will continue to do all we can to address these issues while minimizing the effect on the customers we serve.

"If the intent of the lawsuit is to bring attention to the issue, we applaud the action to raise awareness.  However, if the intent is for a financial settlement for the Riverkeepers, we find this counterproductive to fixing the problem and it would place an undue burden on our rate payers.  We will always vigorously fight to minimize the cost to our customers from such actions.”

The spills are the problem and the costs are a result of the spills that violate the current permits. Every other industry must comply with the EPA regulations to keep the waters clean, why is WWTA exempt? Again here is another example of the WWTA leadership blaming a lawsuit expense as the cause for increased customer bills? WWTA failure to have developed a long term strategy before now has caused the issues and expenses. It has become obvious to me that the only way to get the attention of the WWTA, commissioners, RPC and the public is to file suit, not for the financial gain but to get the right peoples attention.

Based on this statement it appears WWTA feels they are exonerate by self reporting their own spills? The fact that they have spilled over 1,100,000 gals of sewage in 29 spills in Ooltewah is the issue here. This is unacceptable.

The excuse is again “not our fault” that the system is too small. So if you have been in charge, why did you not act before it is a liability to the environment? We are fearful that this same attitude will prevail when a new plant is built and it stinks, spills sewage on our property and affects our property values. How can we trust an organization like this with our futures?

Ooltewah residents have suffered enough – put the sewage place in a safer place.

Donald G. Johnson

* * *

A failed pump was blamed for the sewage spill on Snow Hill Road. These sewage pump stations (technically called “Duplex Pump Stations”) always have two pumps each capable of pumping the full incoming load of the station.

As a contractor I in installed and maintained numerous sewage pump stations. The only reason a pump failure would cause a spill would be because the other pump wasn't working either.

I'm always hesitant to trust the solution to the ones who brought us the problem.


Steve Campbell 

McDonald, Tn.

More Liberal Hypocrisy

Unity Group Denounces Election Security Legislation

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

So the New York Yankees are banning Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America," as they have found some allegedly racist lyrics in two of her songs from more than 80 years ago. That's pretty ... (click for more)

Current legislation that has passed in the House of Representatives and is being debated in the Senate, HB 1079/SB 971, would essentially criminalize voter registration drives by "enhancing election ... (click for more)

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone ... (click for more)


Why Does Walden Need A Large Grocery Store?

The town of Walden has a population of 2,118 people. What do those citizens need with a 49,000 square foot grocery store? Or with 10,000 square feet of commercial office space? Or a fuel island? Or increased tractor trailer traffic with proportional damage to the road up and down the mountain? Or multiple traffic lights at the “W” Road intersection and at Timesville Road? When ... (click for more)

More Liberal Hypocrisy

So the New York Yankees are banning Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America," as they have found some allegedly racist lyrics in two of her songs from more than 80 years ago. That's pretty funny coming from a Major League Baseball franchise since at that time there were no black players allowed in MLB. It would be at least a decade before Jackie Robinson took the field for ... (click for more)

Breaking News

New Details Given On Disappearance Of Geneva Atkins, 83

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office released additional details in an effort to help the public recognize the GMC Sierra pickup truck driven by Geneva Atkins. Mrs. Atkins was last seen on Tuesday at approximately 9 p.m. driving a gray 1999 GMC Sierra with damage to the right front fender. The vehicle is registered in Tennessee and the license plate is 158-JSP. The 1999 GMC Sierra ... (click for more)

Man, 50, Shot In Road Rage Incident On Bailey Avenue; Christopher Bell, 29, Wanted For Attempted Criminal Homicide

A man, 50, was shot on Bailey Avenue on Thursday afternoon, and Christopher Bell, 29, is wanted for criminal attempted homicide. At approximately 3:20 p.m. Chattanooga Police were dispatched to a person shot call at 1050 Bailey Ave. Upon arrival, officers located a man suffering from a gunshot wound. The man stated to police that he and the suspect were involved in a vehicle ... (click for more)


Softball: Baylor Cools Off Soddy-Daisy, 8-0, In Lady Trojan Invitational

The Lady Trojan Invitational began Friday morning in less than ideal weather conditions at Warner Park. Tarps protected the infields of all four diamonds being used, but the outfields were soggy and the warning tracks had the texture of mud pies when heavy rain came back through the area in the third inning. Baylor jumped on host Soddy-Daisy for three first-inning runs and ... (click for more)

Stanfield's One-Hitter Leads Sale Creek Past Marion

It wasn’t the best of weather conditions, but teams playing in the annual Yellow Jacket Classic at Lookout Valley Elementary School’s O’Mary-Conard Field made the most of their opportunities on a soggy turf. Nothing seemed to bother the Sale Creek Lady Panthers as they began the day with an 11-1 win over Lookout Valley. The winning continued with a 2-0 victory over Marion County ... (click for more)