Snail darters and clams among endangered or threatened species living in the Tennessee River near Loudon have been located by divers, caught and relocated.
As soon as a few more preparatory steps are completed, work will be getting under way on the new raw water intake project and water treatment plant expansion for the city of Loudon.
"For now, the main focus is the raw water intake," John Davis, Loudon Water Department engineer, said. "In another couple of weeks, they should be working."
The raw water intake will be located farther out in the river and is expected to increase water quality.
The W. Rogers Company won the contract for the project, which is about half the scope of work originally planned because of funding issues. The project is expected to take 15-18 months to complete, Lynn Mills, general manager of the Loudon Utilities Board, said.
According to Mills, the plant treated 11 million gallons a day on some days in 2010, and at least 20 percent of capacity is supposed to be kept in reserve in case of emergency. Industrial customers, including some also undergoing expansions and needing increased usage, will generate a large portion of funds for the expansion.
LUB also approved an increase in water rates of 7.5 percent in 2010 to help finance the needed expansion. Bids were awarded a year ago, but when the city sought a State Revolving Fund loan to fund the project and learned rates must be increased further before the loan would be approved, they began looking at alternatives.
Instead of seeking an SRF loan, the city approved a bond sale of $13.62 million, which was enough to refinance outstanding debt and provide $10 million for upgrades.
"We had to cut back when we had funding issues," Mills said. "The whole purpose of this project is to have better quality water and reduce our treatment cost and increase pump capacity."
The board approved constructing the new raw water intake for $4.459 million and a new high service pump station with site preparation and electrical work for $4.4 million.
Upon completion, the project should bring the plant to a firm capacity of 14 million gallons a day.
The work in the river must be completed on schedule or the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will require another environmental study, Mills said.