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Original Author: Darden, Ron
Date of Material: 03/25/2002

Utilities--Extension policies

Private Wastewater System in Subdivision

Reviewed Date: 07/20/2021
MTAS was asked whether a developer can provide and operate a private wastewater system in a new subdivision outside the city if the city is currently providing water and electric service to the area.

March 25, 2002

Ms. Chris Hamby, Planning Director
City of Alcoa
223 Associates Boulevard
Alcoa, Tennessee 37701-1943

Re: Wastewater Extension/Rocky Water Area Proposed Subdivision

Dear Ms. Hamby

You have asked MTAS if a developer can provide and operate a private wastewater system in a new subdivision near Rocky Water Subdivision outside your City near the airport? It is my understanding that your City is currently providing water and electric service to the area, which is outside your corporate limits. The answer depends upon several factors.

Your City in providing water and electric service to the area may have created a reasonable expectation that wastewater service could be extended in the future. Your City could not, however, be compelled to pay the costs for providing the main extensions to the proposed subdivision. Your City could not be compelled to provide the service unless there is sufficient existing or planned excess capacity in your wastewater system. We think you could refuse to extend the service based upon reasonable concerns.

In the event that the developer volunteers to install the mains and bear all the costs, and you have sufficient excess capacity, you have the option to refuse the connection and make them carry you to court and be ordered to provide the connection or enter into agreements with the developer for the service that spells our the conditions under which the service may be provided. Some of the conditions may include:

1. That every individual unit connected pays a wastewater connection fee based upon present system equity per customer.
2. That all streets, utilities, and drainage be constructed to City Standards.
3. That wastewater meters and water distribution meters be installed to record flows and that they be tested by a City approved inspector on a regular basis.
4. That the City be authorized to charge basic monthly minimum water and wastewater fees for each individual housing units and charge the master meter user for all flows above these minimums.
5. That the developer reimburse the City for construction inspection services.
6. That all fire hydrants and appurtenances be installed to City Fire Code Standards.
7. That appropriate backflow preventers be installed on all water supply mains.
8. That the system employ licensed water distribution and wastewater distribution operators as required by state law.
9. That the developer advise all property owners and dwellers that the Tennessee Regulatory Authority is the public body to receive and resolve complaints about utilities.
10. The water and wastewater systems be required to obtain approval from the State Department of Environment and Conservation.
11. That the City refuse to accept any utilities unless they are built to City Standards. Do not accept any of the components of the subdivision, water distribution, wastewater collection, streets, or drainage, unless all are built to City Standards and dedicated to the City. You will not be able to repair wastewater mains unless you have access to adequate streets. The drainage system may affect the streets or the wastewater system.
12. That the developer petition the City for annexation.
13. That the developer establish and maintain an effective program to reduce infiltration and inflow into the wastewater system.

While your question related to wastewater, we assumed that the water distribution system would be private as well.

Your City would be in a much better position in terms of the agreement if you adopted these as standards for new subdivisions where the infrastructure is private. You could require that a developer petition the City for annexation if it is a standard.

I am attaching a legal paper prepared by MTAS Legal Consultant Sid Hemsley that may be of benefit to you in addressing your concerns. We will be glad to meet with you and discuss your concerns in more detail at your convenience.


Ron Darden
Municipal Management Consultant

cc. Mr. Sid Hemsley, MTAS Legal Consultant
Mrs. Melissa Ashburn, MTAS Legal Consultant

Enclosure 1