City Council members were told Tuesday they will get a report next month on consolidation of city Public Works with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA).
Mike Marino of Jacobs Engineering said "the numbers look good" on financial benefits and efficiencies from the merger.
He also noted, "There are a lot of details to it," including "what it looks like after consolidation." Issues include staffing and employee benefits.
Mr. Marino said goals of the consolidation include reducing rate increases, improving the level of services, bringing new economic development opportunities and bringing an investment grade credit rating.
The city of Chattanooga has been under a Consent Decree with the EPA for a decade, and Mr. Marino indicated that WWTA is about to go under a similar order setting a timetable for eliminating sewer overflows. He also indicated that the WWTA Consent Decree would then be combined with the city's.
In the merger process, he said these tasks have already been completed: data gathering and research, financial models, and focused meeting and interviews. The final task of analysis and alternative development is now underway.
Mr. Marino said the city and the WWTA have already been making plans to carry out a number of cooperative projects. He said those will include equalization (holding) tanks in three locations at the city/county border. Those include Red Bank, East Ridge and Lee Highway.
Otherwise, he said the two entities would have to build additional tanks across the border from one another.
Those tanks will have storage for 51 millions of wastewater that can be released at times when there is not recent heavy rain.
Mr. Marino said that the city is completing work on three huge tanks on 12 acres at Hamm Road designed to help alleviate the West Bank overflow of sewage into the Tennessee River. This site is not far from the Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant.
The city is nearing the end of Phase 1 of its Consent Decree that cost $276 million. A second $100 million phase will next begin with a variety of projects to repair or replace leaky pipes and add more wastewater storage.
The goal is to have a "Clear Chattanooga" with elimination of sewage dumps into the river, officials said.