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Environment and Conservation Lifts Monteagle Sewer Connection Moratorium

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 | 10:59am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced today that a seven-year sewer connection moratorium for the town of Monteagle has been lifted due to major improvements made to the town’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system and the town’s ability to meet the requirements of an Agreed Order issued in January 2005. 

Following a tour of the improvements on Monday with Mayor of Monteagle Marilyn Nixon, Martineau stated, “Mayor Nixon and the entire town of Monteagle should be commended for the community’s cooperative spirit in proactively addressing its wastewater challenges, while positioning their town for long-term economic growth.  These upgraded infrastructure efforts will help protect the community’s water quality, natural resources and serve as a boost to its economy." 

Monteagle originally had two wastewater treatment plants that served its residents and portions of Tracy City.  These wastewater plants discharged into Trussell Creek and Juanita Creek – two small receiving streams that flow into openings on top of the plateau into groundwater aquifers located in the Pelham Valley.   

In 2002, the Water Quality Control Board signed an Agreed Order with both the town of Monteagle and the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly, outlining excessive inflow and infiltration in sewer lines that caused numerous sewer overflows.   

While improvements were made to the collection system located within the boundaries of the MSSA from 2002 to 2004, issues became more pronounced with Monteagle’s wastewater treatment capabilities.  This resulted in a second Agreed Order, which required the town of Monteagle to repair and upgrade its Wastewater Treatment Plant #2 and repair or replace an aged collection system.  Issued in January 2005, this second Agreed Order also placed Monteagle under a sewer connection moratorium.   

Due to the inability of Wastewater Treatment Plant #2 to meet the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit limits, Monteagle was also required to restore portions of Trussell Creek so the receiving stream could fully support its designated use.  

Issues were exacerbated when an equalization tank at Wastewater Treatment Plant #1 collapsed on the morning of March 15, 2009, releasing approximately 150,000 gallons of raw sewage into Juanita Creek.   

“After a number of changes in local leadership, countless discussions with engineering firms and after paying thousands of dollars in penalties for not being able to meet compliance standards, the March 2009 incident became a crucial turning point for our town and its residents,” said Mayor Nixon.  “We simply had to find a way to resolve these issues and move forward.”   

In September 2009, Monteagle received $6.2 million through Tennessee’s State Revolving Fund loan program and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to begin infrastructure improvements.  The project was funded with a 20-year, $3.72 million loan with an interest rate of 1.79 percent.  Forty percent of the funding was in the form of principal forgiveness, which does not have to be repaid. 

As a result of this funding and the town’s aggressive and consistent approach to resolving issues, Monteagle began operation of its Wastewater Treatment Plant #3 in December 2011.  With the capacity of 500,000 gallons per day, 90 percent of the town’s infiltration and inflow has been removed from its collection system.  In addition, manholes were replaced and all of the old sewer lines were eliminated. As part of Monteagle’s overall improvements, local plant operators have implemented a Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance Plan and a Sewer Overflow Response Plan.  Both Wastewater Treatment Plants #1 and #2 have been removed from service.   

“Through hard work and diligence, we have satisfied all of the terms of the Agreed Order and the town of Monteagle is now responsible for the management of its wastewater treatment and collection facilities,” added Mayor Nixon.  “I could not be more proud of the strides we’ve made as a community and know that these improvements will only strengthen our position as a growing, economically viable community.”   

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