Shannon Whitfield

Shannon Whitfield

The city of Chattanooga has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority has breached its 2016 wastewater contract.

The authority hasn’t fully paid Chattanooga for wastewater treatment and disposal, according to the suit.

The suit “is a contractual dispute between the city of Chattanooga and the Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority, not Walker County government,” pointed out Joe Legge, the county’s public relations director.

“The Water and Sewerage Authority’s legal counsel is reviewing the city’s complaint,” Legge said.

“The authority is an independent entity with its own employees and general manager,” he said. “Many people think it is a county department, but it is not.”

Board meetings for the authority are held at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday each month at the Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority, 4665 Happy Valley Road, Flintstone. Meetings are open the public to attend and voice their concerns about their drinking water.

The authority’s board of directors includes Annette North, Scott Abston, William Cooke, vice chairman Micheal Haney and chairman Shannon Whitfield, who is also county commissioner.

Escalating watewater treatment costs

In a July 2018 the Walker County Messenger reported that Commissioner Shannon Whitfield “had been in office a short time before learning that the northern end of the county had an old and decaying sewer system.”

“Not only was the system failing, it relies on Chattanooga’s Moccasin Bend Wastewater Plant for treatment and is billed for that service.”

The article advised readers of increasing sewer system volume and escalating costs by Moccassin Bend Wastewater Plant.

The commissioner’s office lamented how the treatment bill had risen from $40,000-$50,000 per month to about $220,000 — An increase customers would be forced to bear “due to years of costly neglect of our vital infrastructure,” according to the Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority board, which stated so in a notice to customers at that time.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.