Loudon Utilities Board discussed Monday the application for a State Revolving Loan to be used for expansion of the water treatment plant and installation of a new waterline.
The loan boasts extremely low interest rates that can’t be beat, Ty Ross, LUB manager, said. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation requires specific items in the application such as a facility plan and resident project managers.
LUB is applying for the loan so it can install a new 24-inch waterline across the Tennessee River at a cost of $3.2 million. The price tag for the water treatment plant expansion is $13.4 million.
Larry Joe Dockery, LUB engineer, said the effort was a “re-picking up” of a previous expansion project from 2011 that fell through.
According to a task order presented to LUB, after receiving approval from the board, the waterline installation and facility expansion will start simultaneously, with an estimated 10-month finish date from the start of construction.
Gene Farmer, board member, inquired about the possibility of building a new water treatment facility on the opposite side of the river instead of paying for the expansion and new line.
“About a year ago, we considered thinking of building a water facility across the river and do away with the line across the river,” Farmer said. “I believe Jacobs Engineering at the time commented the cost to be approximately in the neighborhood of $8 (million)-$10 million to build a facility that would adequately cover that side of the river. My question is, is this board open to considering that option before expanding the current facility for another $14 million plus and another $3 million?”
Dockery said starting a new construction project in the river would be difficult due to biological concerns. There are recorded endangered species within the river. A biological assessment and approval for the project could set it back several years.
Ross said the treatment plant has already been the subject of expansion and upgrades when a project was established in 2011. However, it was abandoned due to a shortage of money, he said.
“Back to your comment, Ty, on running out of money, I just have to comment on this because I was here during the tenure of that expansion,” Farmer said. “I tell you it wasn’t running out of money. It was out of poor management. We can’t allow that to happen again. Some of these guys on this board know that. We kept having the engineering group come back and say, ‘Oh, we forgot, we have to add this now. We’ve got to add this now. We’ve got to add this now.’ Before long, we were over $2 (million) or $3 million in expenses. That’s the whole point of looking at every option up front, ensuring that we’re making the right decisions.”
Don Campbell, board chairman, raised concerns about the previous project and urged Dockery to take them into consideration.
Ross reminded the board to look at this as a loan application, while construction contracts will come at a later date.
“While we’re airing our grievances here, talking about pumps again, we never did get what we bought from that last deal,” Campbell said. “We couldn’t get companies to own up to their guarantees. We couldn’t get the engineering companies to push it and make people honor what they promised. There again, we’d rather not hear that again. Take all of that stuff into consideration, please do. … I know this is something we need, but we need to be smart on how we go about it.”