Chattanooga officials are taking out an up-to-$186 million low-interest loan that will fund several large projects associated with the city's consent decree, a 2012 settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency designed to prevent sewer overflows into the Tennessee River.
On Tuesday, the City Council authorized staff to begin the process of issuing and selling the bonds. The EPA invited the city to apply for those funds in December 2021. They are available through the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act.
“We were invited to get this loan specifically because of the projects we have in the pipeline that they see as demonstrating a commitment to protecting access to clean water,” Ellis Smith, the director of special projects in Mayor Tim Kelly's office, said in a phone call Thursday.
According to a fact sheet the city prepared in February, the loan will support construction of three equalization stations near connections with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority, which will increase capacity in the regional system during heavy rain and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows in those areas.