With substantial growth projected for Bradley County in the next 30 years, the need for expanded lines for drinking water – as well as sewer options – are becoming more prevalent.
With substantial growth projected for Bradley County in the next 30 years, the need for expanded lines for drinking water — as well as sewer options — are becoming more prevalent.
The Bradley County Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee for Drinking Water and Waste Water Treatment Services met for the first time Monday evening, bringing into focus how to meet those future needs. Committee members are Chairman Dennis Epperson, Commissioners Tim Mason and Kevin Raper, Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber, builder Tricia Pennington and Bradley County Planner Bently Thomas, who is a non-voting member.
According to Epperson, the purpose of the committee is to consider a long-range plan to study drinking water and wastewater treatment service for Bradley County and to determine the available options for water/sewer service and identify the source of revenue.
In its first meeting, the committee discussed options including:
• Establish a Bradley County Authority (TCA 5-16-101). Committee members discussed whether an authority was established "years ago" but never met.
Lake Mantooth, a local developer and member of the Bradley County Regional Planning Commission, said there is an authority, adding it is not Hiwassee Utilities Commission.
"You have to have an authority to operate these systems," Mantooth said. "It is an old one but it's still good."
• Interlocal agreements with other agencies (TCA 12-9-104). Epperson said interlocal agreements may be possible with the city of Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities, Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority, and Ocoee Utility District.
"Those are some of the options we could look at," he said.
Mantooth said he checked into an alternative sewer system with Ocoee Utilities five or six years ago. He said at that time he was told he could only do such a system with OU if Cleveland Utilities officials said they would not do it; he is not sure if that is still the same.
Epperson said he wants to look at options to help reimburse a developer if they do wastewater treatment on site, adding he wants to see if some property taxes might eventually pay the developer back for making that type of improvement.
• On-site wastewater treatment system consisting of a house sewer drain, septic tank, distribution box and soil absorption (leach) field.
• Regular septic systems.
In addition, Tony Kinder, site development manager with the City of Chattanooga’s Land Development Office, presented information to the committee about meeting needs of growth.
"I don't have a horse in this race right now," Kinder said. "I'm not trying to sell you anything."
Looking ahead to 2050, Kinder presented information related to:
• Population trends – Kinder said as of July 1, 2017, Bradley County has a population of approximately 105,560 people. By 2050, the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business & Economic Research projects a population of 136,952, or an average increase of 965 people per year – about 20 new residents per week.
• Buildings – Based on numbers by Chris Nelson of Virginia Tech’s “Leadership in a New Era,” that would mean 378.8 new homes per year and an additional 18,000 replacement homes; 58,800,000 square feet of new offices, institutions, stores and other non-residential buildings; with two-thirds of all buildings on the ground by 2050 being constructed between now and then.
“Bradley County’s in a growth area,” Kinder said.
• Infrastructure – Population growth on this scale will impact existing infrastructure, including roads, stormwater, water and sanitary sewer, among others. Kinder said looking mainly at sanitary sewer needs, he believes Bradley County has options. Among those are gravity-flow sewer to an off-site wastewater treatment facility; septic tank and field lines; mound and similar systems.
Kinder said the makeup of the county’s soil is limited in use of septic tanks and field lines, meaning “it will impact things you’re looking at in the future.” Options he suggested include gravity sewers with lift/pump stations (sometimes allowed by Cleveland Utilities); grinder pump system at each house; or a septic tank effluent pumping (STEP) system at each house.
“There’s a lot of different possibilities,” Kinder said.
The committee took no action on the discussion held during the meeting.
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