After 20 years and several attempts to get public sewer service to Tamina, local leaders say the most recent attempt has also experienced its share of obstacles.
As a small, unincorporated community founded in 1871 by freed slaves following the end of the Civil War, Tamina has withstood nearly 150 years of development and rapid growth in surrounding communities.
However, while The Woodlands, Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah have added sewer infrastructure, Tamina residents must still depend on antiquated septic and aerobic systems to treat wastewater due to a lack of public sewer service there.
Community Impact Newspaper previously reported the Old Tamina Water Supply Corp. was in contract negotiations with the Southern Montgomery County Municipal Utility District as of May 2018 to bring public sewer service to the community. The project would have allowed the OTWSC to construct a public sewage system providing 186 hookups with the capacity to expand to 250, allowing the community to receive wastewater treatment services through the Southern Montgomery County MUD beginning in 2019.
At that time, the project was to be funded through a $2 million grant from United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, plus another $350,000 to cover a connection fee Montgomery County Community Development had tentatively agreed to allocate funds for.
However, in early January, Joanne Ducharme, Montgomery County director of Community Development, confirmed MCCD had pulled funding for the project for a variety of reasons, including issues with Tamina’s funding application.
“The biggest problem was that … the budget was based on very old cost estimates,” Ducharme said. “We decided instead to try to clarify these issues and figure out what [Tamina] still really needed beyond Rural Development funding.”
However, Ducharme said the other big concern for MCCD was Tamina had requested funding from MCCD after funding was already under contract with USDA Rural Development for the same project.
“We went above and beyond what we usually do to help shepherd this project along and were optimistic we could make it happen,” Ducharme said. “But [we]were unable to take the risks with taxpayer funds that the project as proposed put us under.”
While MCCD withdrew its funding, OTWSC President James Leveston said as of late January, USDA funding is still in place. However, he said the entity has discussed withdrawing its funding as well, which would put OTWSC back to square one.
“I think that’s going to be the lifeline of this community,” Leveston said. “[Tamina] will cease to exist if we don’t get sewage.”
Leveston said he is continuing negotiations with USDA as of late January.