Portland Waste Water Treatment Plant Chief Operator James Scharklet turned in a two-week notice on June 28 to resign his position. Scharklet worked for the city for 20 years.
Information The Portland Sun obtained through a Public Records Request found that Scharklet received an evaluation score of 91 percent in 2018 and 85 percent in 2019 with both scores falling in the outstanding range.
On the June 12, 2018 evaluation, Steve Whitehead listed Scharklet’s area of greatest strength was that he works hard to keep the plant running. His recommendation was that Scharklet lower overtime for himself and employees.
On the May 20, 2019 evaluation, Utilities Director Bryan Price stated that Scharklet’s strength was his perseverance and knowledge of the plant and recommended that Scharklet continue to improve management skills, delegate more responsibility and delegate weekend work to co-workers already scheduled.
Scharklet said, “To be honest, It was time for me to go. I couldn’t do the job like I used to. I was constantly being told how to do my job that I had done for 20 years.”
He added that he was concerned about the amount of water that could be discharged from the Waste Water Treatment Plant and was concerned about the number of overflows throughout the city. He said he was not comfortable releasing more than 1.9 million gallons daily (MGD).
Portland’s State Permit No. TN0021865 considers the Waste Water Treatment Plant a Discharge 001 plant - the category for treatment facilities with a design capacity of 1.9 million MGD.
According to Price, the plant doesn’t have a discharge limit for flow. The plant averages 1.9 MGD, but has a capacity of 3.8 MGD. The permit sets values for the amount of items like chlorine, nitrogen and phosphorus that can be discharged daily.
The Portland Sun received an email from the Tennessee Department of Environment Conservation stating that a plant may still be in compliance with intermittent high flows, but there is a point where higher flows can lead to discharge amounts that exceed permit limits.
Price appointed Larry Quattlebaum as acting chief director on July 8.