City settles sewer lawsuit, raises fees - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City settles sewer lawsuit, raises fees

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Repairing Chattanooga's failing sewer system will cost $250 million.

A burden, residents will have to carry.

The city settled a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency, agreeing to remedy several issues. But, it will take raising rates again.

"It all floods in here, said Bob Haynes, showing Channel 3 around his property on South Hawthorne Street, "in 2003, I had four feet of water in the office."

Bob Haynes' tire business is short on storm water drains, and full of puddles, days after our last hard rain.

"I was really holding the city's storm water run off, and paying them for it," he said.

We first met Haynes in 2009, when the city drastically raised storm water fees to battle the city-wide dilapidated sewer system.

"My fees went from $90 to $1,700 a year," he sighed.

"We've not been able to give the employees the raise that we should, because we are using for other purposes."

Three years later, still no drains.

Haynes learned Tuesday sewer fees are now going up.

"It's around $250 million over the next 16 years," said Mayor Ron Littlefield, in a press conference.

The city must pay $476,000 in civil penalties, make $250 million in improvements, and fund an $800,000 green infrastructure plan.

Currently, users pay $26.37 for every 5,000 gallons of water consumed.

By next April, they will pay $2.57 more.

Mayor Littlefield says future rate hikes should stay under 10 percent.

"People will be seeing some good things coming from all this, coming to their neighborhoods," said Littlefield.

Haynes hopes his pooled parking lot is at the top of the list, as storm water and sewage fees are expected to increase again.

"Help, that's all we need," said Haynes.

The city has 16 years to remedy the issues.

Mayor Littlefield calls it a "fair" settlement. He tells Channel 3, $20 million in repairs have already begun.

For more on the lawsuit settlement, click here.

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