SUD Good News

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the April 16 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners received good news about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and about resolution of a years-old agreement with the University promising to reimburse the utility for expenses incurred as a consequence of narrowing Highway 41A. In new business, the board took up a request for a water-bill adjustment and discussed the possible need for upsizing sewer lines serving the eastern section of the district.

“We were part of an EPA test for PFAS,” said SUD manager Ben Beavers. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals used in carpeting, apparel, upholstery, food paper wrappings, cable coatings and more. PFAS health risks include cancer, suppressed immunity, increased cholesterol levels, developmental disorders, and decreased fertility. “It’s not in our water,” Beavers reassured the board. “We don’t have any of it.”

Narrowing Highway 41A evolved in conjunction with the University pursuing its Sewanee Village Plan for the downtown area. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) took on the project, and because narrowing the highway was a TDOT project, SUD was financially liable for the water and sewer infrastructure changes required. In the summer of 2020, the University verbally agreed to help offset SUD’s expense, but SUD never received reimbursement for the substantial costs incurred. “[Vice Chancellor] Rob Pearigen sat down next to me at the recent fire department reunion,” said SUD Board President Charlie Smith, “and Rob told me, ‘We’re prepared to write a check for the road project.’” Pearigen also mentioned the University’s intention to follow through on the agreement to Beavers. Pearigen said his assistant Nicky Hamilton would contact Beavers to finalize the arrangements.

After careful consideration, the board rejected a request for an adjustment from a customer with a $450 December water bill for over 18,000 gallons of usage. The customer, a part-time resident, said SUD notified her of the high usage, and a neighbor subsequently shut off the water under the house. A plumber found no leaks, making the customer ineligible for leak-insurance reimbursement. Beavers suspected a running toilet caused the excessive usage. Smith pointed out a faulty toilet flapper could also be the cause. Customers with leak insurance who had leaks from frozen pipes during the subzero January temperatures were reimbursed by the insurance company, Beavers said, but toilet problems do not count as leaks. Beavers offered to have the meter tested and refund the bill if the meter was faulty, with the stipulation, if the meter was not faulty, the customer would pay for the $50 meter test. The customer declined the offer. “Please tell her we’re sympathetic,” Smith said.

Beavers introduced a discussion about the possible need for “upsizing” the sewer line from the manhole in front of the proposed University apartments to Baker’s Lane. “The [line] takes all the sewage east of the University and St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School,” Beavers said. “It runs at full capacity during heavy rain.” Beavers partly attributed the situation to inflow and infiltration of ground water into the sewer line, but stressed “this is more of a capacity problem.” The 10-inch line increases to 16 inches at Baker’s Lane and continues as a 16-inch line to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. In addition to the University apartments, sewage from the proposed SAS development and Arcadia senior living facility would flow into the line. “Growth pays for growth,” said Smith, citing SUD policy that requires residential development projects to pay for needed infrastructure upgrades. Beavers proposed “the most equitable” resolution would be “cost sharing” among the three development projects depending on the amount of increased capacity each required. Beavers said he suggested “upsizing” the line at the time of the highway project when upgrades were already underway, which would have made the undertaking less costly. The University did not respond to his suggestion. Evaluation by an engineer will be needed to determine if upsizing is needed and by how much.

2024 May
2024 April
2024 March
2024 February
2024 January
2023 December
2023 November
2023 October
2023 September
2023 August
2023 July
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May