Hypocrisy Of Tennessee American Water Company Critics - And Response

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

All pump-pressure systems have acute failures. It is expected that utilities will experience system failures that are unanticipated, even with the best prevention. These would be acute failures. That is why all utilities from electric, water, and yes municipal sewer collection systems and treatment plants have response plans.

Tennessee American Water Company experienced an acute failure.  It is an engineering expectation that utility systems will have acute failures.

Responsible utilities plan, inspect, and are prepared with back up equipment and a response plan for acute failures. 

Tennessee American Water Company has an outstanding record of service delivery to Chattanooga.  I cannot say the same about the most vocal critics of the water company, who have operated a utility in a perpetual state of chronic failure for decades.

The bad utility actors operate in a state of system failure. An example, is repeating the same failure as an operating practice, called chronic operating failure.

I am reading the demands of Mayor Littlefield and Mayor Berke seeking answers for the water outage.  That is comical given their own utility operation records.  I want answers from these mayors about the millions of gallons of untreated wastewater discharged to public roads, ditches, and private property as a way of life in their wastewater collection system.

Remember, these mayors have been or are currently charged with a wastewater utility that dumps millions of gallons of untreated wastewater in public roadways, surcharged with untreated wastewater creating hazardous roadway safety conditions.

The city of Chattanooga discharges untreated wastewater into the ditches, streams, private property, the Tennessee River, and private yards on a regular basis.

In fact, how could we forget the city’s pump failure that resulted in a catastrophic discharge of millions of gallons of untreated wastewater that continued for days into the Tennessee River under Mayor Littlefield’s watch.  The city had an acute pump failure at a critical location, and guess what, no back up pump.

Certainly, the fine that resulted, could have purchased many pumps of that size.   

It is literally crickets from Mayor Littlefield and Mayor Berke on their own utility calamity that is ongoing.

Even a fast record dig paints a dismal picture of the Chattanooga wastewater utility system. I keep wondering how the city gets away gross negligence.  Where is the citizen lawsuit against Chattanooga?

“The 2010 lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Clean Water Network against the city claimed that, between January 2006 and June 2010, the city had 32 waste stream discharges totaling about 319 million gallons of water, and 489 sanitary sewer discharges totaling 35 million gallons.” Ansly Haman, TFP

“Just between July 1 and Sept. 30, Chattanooga reported 43 sewer overflows and 60 outfall discharges totaling tens of millions of gallons to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” Judy Walton, TFP

The city of Chattanooga has made attempts to take over Tennessee American Water Company.  I cringe at the thought of the city running the water company. The city has a horrific record in utility operation, and should never be allowed to buy Tennessee American Water Company.  The private sector does a much better job. 

To the people filing lawsuits against Tennessee American Water Company for disruption of water service, you folks were not offended when your electric service was compromised, or that your flushes are discharging directly to the river untreated.

Where are these petitioner’s objections to the city’s utility chronic failure,  and discharging untreated wastewater in 60 locations this year. Critics of Tennessee American Water Company, fix your own failing utility, then throw rocks at the water company.

April Eidson

* * * 

April Eidson's article is on point. I have been reading quite a few posts to local social media sites and there seems to be a lot of grumbling about Tennessee American and its supposed neglect of its own infrastructure. Many people seem to think the answer is to do what Jon Kinsey failed to do, and have the city take over the water company.

To those people I say, "Be careful what you wish for ... you may just get it." Do you really think that taking over a utility from business people and putting politicians in charge of it will improve its operation?

If your answer is yes, I invite you to spend a little time driving the streets of Chattanooga and see how well the city is doing with regard to maintaining that particular infrastructure. Figuring out how to pay the repair bills for your car will keep the water company's woes off your mind for awhile.

Joe Dumas
Signal Mountain


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