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Cookeville Developing Plan To Attack Sewer Needs

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Developing Plan To Attack Sewer Needs

The City of Cookeville is moving closer to a comprehensive sewer extension plan to answer growing demand and needs.

City Manager James Mills said the top priority is extending sewer services to areas with failing septic systems. He said areas without adequate sewer capacity that are primed for development will be next on the list. He said the Water Quality Control Department is constructing a plan that he hopes will avoid raising rates.

“We’ve had a lot of proposals for development,” Mills said. “But the existing sewer pump stations and lines will need to be upgraded before we can accommodate that growth. But the plan will help us decide and establish priorities and, hopefully, a schedule for implementing the improvements.”

Mills said the northwestern section of the city has garnered heavy interest from developers, but sewer is needed in those areas before higher density is available. He said with sewer rather than septic, developers can get far more units on one property. He said due to the scale of development, the existing system can no longer handle any future growth.

“With the price of land now, that’s attractive to developers,” Mills said. “We encourage to have the more dense developments within the city where the infrastructure is available.”

He said the city may be at a point where borrowing a substantial sum of money makes sense for a major project like some outlined in the plan.

Mills said many annexed areas in the city already have plans for sewer extension. He said some of the more recently annexed sections have healthy septic systems that are meeting demand, so implementing sewer does not make financial sense.

“If you extend sewer in an area that’s got all functioning septic system, no one’s going to tie onto the sewer system,” Mills said. “And you just spend a lot of money for very little use.”

Several City Council members expressed concern earlier this year that some annexed areas have yet to receive sewer. They asked city staff to build a comprehensive plan so that everyone might better understand how big the needs are and what the cost might be.

“The Water Quality Control Department has generally had a philosophy of pay as you go,” Mills said. “Save up some money and do major projects.”


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