NCA Representatives Query First Utility Commissioners

To seek clarification on First Utility’s plan to serve the Post Oak development, Wednesday several NCA representatives attended the FUD board meeting.

Our team presented questions to the board and their engineering head on sewer capacity, what route the Post Oak service line would follow, how the roadway(s) and traffic flow would be impacted, how the project would be coordinated with the pending study and state-planned improvements to Northshore Drive, what provisions are being made for compliance with state and federal regulations as well as how costs would be allocated. We were also interested in whether community residents currently on septic systems would be forced into involuntary tie-ons or tap charges to pay for the availability of the new line.

Our team learned that plans for this project are in the very preliminary stages – that may be primarily in the form of an expressed willingness for FUD to work together with Knox County on the project going forward. It seemed at least some of the board members may have been unaware.

Neither the FUD engineering head or board members were able to address our questions yesterday. No written or drawn plans or cost projections exist at this time. Our representatives were told what FUD policies have been in the past which might apply to this project and that those decisions rest with their board (Their policy to date has been not to force involuntary tie- ons. It is a widespread practice among utilities).

The board offered to meet later with our volunteers. They also mentioned they are considering some potential upgrades to capacity in the Little Creek (Northshore Hills, Whittington Creek, Bluegrass Lake) area that might require adding a pump at the Ebenezer pumping station.

As you may be aware from previous posts there was heavy flooding in that area in February with the apparent escape of untreated sewage into Little Creek and Bluegrass Lake as well as discharges of untreated sewage into the low areas along Ebenezer Road. It is our understanding that the EPA and TDEC became involved at that time as FUD pumps were overwhelmed and nearby neighborhoods were isolated for several days when the Bluegrass Lake outlet(s) failed to drain the flood waters.

Our NCA team is interested in being assured that appropriate coordinated planning takes place between Knox County, First Utility District, the State of TN and federal regulators; that public safety and welfare are served generally and that project costs are fairly allocated.

We are looking forward to working more closely with both First Utility District and Knox County to be sure the public is informed and engaged and that the broad public interest is represented as plans are made. We will post here when we have more information.