New wet weather equalization station is now fully operational

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – This morning Chattanooga city officials announced that the new wet weather equalization station is fully operational.

The goal of the new equalization station is to protect the Tennessee river from raw sewage contamination. Without this new station, it’s predicted there would be tens of millions of gallons of sewage overflowing into the river every year.

“The reality is that since this facility began operating earlier this spring, there hasn’t been a single untreated wastewater overflow into the Tennessee River, even with a heavy rainstorm throughout the summer. This represents a huge step forward in our work to preserve outdoor resources and create a more sustainable future,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly.

 Looking back on our most recent flood on August 10th, when Chattanooga was hit with a 10-year rain event, it was thanks to the wet weather equalization station that not a single gallon of untreated wastewater overflowed into the Tennessee River

“Streets were flooded, buildings were flooded. The lobby of the Public Works Department had water flowing through it, but what didn’t happen that day was a sanitary sewer overflow into the Tennessee River. In the downtown area, all of that rain that we get goes into the wastewater collection system. In the past, a rain event like that would have overwhelmed the system completely. This time 80 million gallons of wastewater and rainwater from the combined sewer system in downtown Chattanooga and some areas north of the river as well. Were pumped to this facility, and that later slowly released to the treatment plant for purification,” said Mark Heinzer, interim director of the Moccasin Bend Environmental Campus. 

This is part of the city’s consent decree beginning. Which was a result of the older sewer system contaminating  the Tennessee River in violation with the federal Clean Water Act. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the EPA in 2013 started rehabilitating and renewing its wastewater system.

Chattanooga is approximately half way through its $1.1 billion, 17-year commitment under the consent decree.

Chattanooga’s older sewer system, which combined both sewage and the city’s rainfall, was repeatedly overflowing causing nearly 100 million gallons of untreated wastewater to flow into the Tennessee River every year. 

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