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Town seeking permit to move wastewater discharge to Nolichucky

Town leaders are seeking a water quality permit from the state to discharge effluent from its wastewater treatment plant into the Nolichucky River. The move, if approved, will eliminate the town’s current system of discharging into Little Limestone Creek.
“We have a limit of 500,000 gallons of discharge a day into Little Limestone Creek,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “In order to grow and have more sewage flow coming into a plant and treating it, we have to go to another stream.”
Browning said he expects the state will allow the town a maximum of 1 million gallons per day into the Nolichucky River.
According to Browning, the town would discharge into the Nolichucky around mile 84.5, near the spot where Cherokee Creek runs into the river.
The proposed permit contains limitations on the amount of pollutants that can be discharged.
“They go through and estimate limits for various elements, like e. coli, and establish criteria you have to meet when you discharge into a stream,” Browning said. “It’s less stringent going into a river than going into Little Limestone Creek.”
Permit conditions are tentative and subject to public comment. If enough people request a public hearing, one will be held regarding the permit application, according to the Tennessee Department of Enviromnent and Conservation.
The permit application gets the ball rolling for the town’s second phase of improvements to its troubled wastewater treatment facility.
For years, the town has faced sewage overflow and effluent violations from the state due to several problems at the plant, including capacity issues.
The town is still working on the first phase of its planned improvements, which includes adding more basins for water treatment.
“Having more basins will give us more room when we have major rain events,” Browning said. “We’ll be more able to handle overflows and not have treatment problems.”
While funding for Phase I has already been secured, town officials have accounted for only $500,000 of the estimated $4.5 million it will take to complete Phase II.
In addition to moving the discharge to the Nolichucky River, the second phase also includes plans to install an outfall line to carry the effluent to the river.
Browning said the town plans to bid out the first phase of the project next year.
If TDEC grants the town its permit to discharge into the Nolichucky River, that phase of the project will be bid out once funding is secured, Browning said.
The public comment period for the water quality permit ends Oct. 24. To comment on the permit issuance, submit comments to: TDEC-WPC; 401 Church St., 6th Floor, L&C Annex; Nashville, TN 37243.
For more information, call the Johnson City Environmental Field Office at 854-5400.