Water board signs off on sewer extension

As expected, board members for the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority gave the nod this morning to an agreement with the county's Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to extend the county's limited sewer system to a north Dade parcel if and when it becomes the prospective site for new industry.

In order for the agreement to become effective, as has been set forth in previous water board meetings, three things must happen:

  • An industry must decide to build there;

  • IDA must accordingly option the land from the landowner;

  • and the landowner must remit $300,000 to IDA which IDA would then relay to the water authority to pay for the sewer extension.

Thus the likelihood of the agreement ever coming to fruition is an open question. Peter Cervelli, soon-to-retire executive director of IDA, has repeated that the site is only one being considered by an unidentified corporate investor.

But the agreement stays in effect for two years, making it within the realm of imagination that another industry might become interested in the land and take up the offer even if mystery investor 1 bails. Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley, who also chairs the water board, has in any case opined at earlier meetings that extending the sewer system is inevitable. Trenton Mayor Alex Case has reminded that sewer capacity is the first question prospective new industries ask.

Dade is currently septic-tank country, with only Trenton proper, the small Highway 299 strip and the Canyon Ridge golf course served by county sewers. Another tiny, decaying sewer within Dade near the old Flintstone air defense base atop Lookout, built by the Feds for staff housing back in the day, was revamped and absorbed by Lookout Mountain, Ga., years ago.

Ted Rumley was detained by other county business and did not attend the frosty 8 a.m. meeting this morning, which was chaired instead by board member Eddie Cantrell.

The only questions came from Cantrell, who asked County Attorney Robin Rogers, who is also legal advisor to IDA: "You're fully behind this, and good with the numbers?"

And from Dr. Billy Pullen, who asked Rogers, "Is there some other agreement?"

The attorney conveyed via some species of matutinal subvocalization an affirmative to Cantrell, and to Dr. Pullen he supplied the information that the only other agreement was between IDA and the landowner.

"Our contract is with you," IDA's Peter Cervelli told the board. "If we screw up with the landowner, that's our problem."

Dr. Pullen also asked water authority manager Doug Anderton about sewer capacity in re the other establishments tied to the Highway 299 area sewer system. He pointed out that a new building is currently under construction there and will presumably also produce sewage. Anderton clarified as he has before that Dade is limited to 500,000 gallons a day by the Chattanooga wastewater facility to which the north Dade line pumps. He said the existing businesses pump only 40,000 gallons a day. The agreement for the sewer extension is for up to 450,000 gallons.

At the regular February meeting, board members had speculated that building the extension, and the new pump station it would require, would cost far more than the $300,000 the landowner has agreed to kick in. But at the March meeting last week, Anderton assured them the work could be done within that price limitation.

There were no other questions and the agreement passed without further discussion or dissent.

The agreement specifies that if the land is optioned and the $300,000 paid, the water authority has a year to complete the sewer extension.

It also identifies the land parcel in question as a 362.72-acre tract at 19957 Highway 11 in Wildwood.

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