published Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Mayor Ron Littlefield says clean water authority moving ahead

NASHVILLE — While his legislation on regional and wastewater authorities is going nowhere at the state Capitol, outgoing Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said it won't affect the Moccasin Bend Clean Water Authority, which he set up to take control of the city's sewer and stormwater programs.

"It is not abandoned. It's moving forward" locally, Littlefield said Tuesday. "We can do what we need to do right now with the law that exists."

As for the state legislation, Littlefield said "there was nothing in the bill that said anything about taking over any other utility. That seemed to be bothering some."

The mayor leaves office next month.

Patterned after EPB, the new water authority will take over the city's Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant and other sanitary and stormwater runoff operations. The authority's board met last week for the first time.

On Monday, the sponsor of Littlefield's bill, Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, referred the measure back to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

He blamed opposition from the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority.

"The WWTA, the wastewater authority, and everybody kept throwing up roadblocks and questions," Gardenhire said. "So Ron just said, 'Look, it's not that big of a deal. It's something I thought would help.' And he just asked me to go ahead and refer it back to committee and not to make a big deal of it."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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