Workers building sewer system holding tank near Emory Valley Road

Emory Valley Road Sewer System Holding Tanks

Workers assemble a sewer system holding tank near Emory Valley Road and Fairbanks Road on Wednesday afternoon.

  Workers have been assembling a sewer system holding tank near Emory Valley Road and Fairbanks Road. It’s one of three tanks that will help Oak Ridge comply with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency order that requires the city to end all sewer system overflows by September 2015. The Emory Valley Road tank is on a roughly one-acre tract on the east side of the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center. The other two tanks will be built near the intersection of South Illinois Avenue and Scarboro Road, just down the street from the main entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex, and in an isolated, industrial area off Cairo Road in east Oak Ridge. The Oak Ridge City Council approved the locations for the three tanks, officially known as equalization basins, in September 2013. The Anderson County Commission agreed to donate a small parcel of land for the Emory Valley Road tank. And the City Council agreed in December 2013 to buy a car wash owned by businessman Terry Mulllins for $125,000 and replace it with the tank at Scarboro Road and South Illinois Avenue as part of a plan to move that equalization basin farther back from the road. [Read more…]

Guest column: Recommends more negotiations with EPA, DOE on sewer system upgrade

Note: This is a copy of a letter sent to Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan and Oak Ridge City Council members, among others.

Dear Mayor Beehan,

Next Monday evening you will begin considering a major increase in the Oak Ridge city debt to finance the sewer upgrade project. This increase and the associated utility rate increases:

[Read more…]

Guest column: Let’s work hard rather than ‘rubber stamping’ water, sewer debt

We are only a few days into 2013 and most of us have discovered that we will have to make do with less this year. Before January ends, Oak Ridgers will realize that fact again when they receive their water and sewer bills, which will reflect the second rate hike since last May.

But before you have a chance to see your newly increased bill, Oak Ridge City Council may take an action that will cause your rates to rise a third time before 2013 ends. On Jan. 14, City Council will vote whether or not to apply for two state loans totaling $18 million. This debt, in addition to a large portion of the $15 million issued since September 2011, will pay for work affiliated with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative order that requires the city to stop sewer overflows.

All $33 million borrowed will be paid by Oak Ridgers through multiple increases in your water and sewer rates. The amount of those increases is not determined until after each round of debt is issued. In other words, the city first borrows on your behalf and then determines how much it will charge you without consideration for your ability to pay.

[Read more…]