Water over troubled bridge

City racing to relocate line to Hampton spring

By Thomas Wilson
City of Elizabethton officials hope a deteriorating bridge holds up long enough to relocate a main water line that feeds potable water from the city's Hampton Spring source.
The city's 14-inch water line from the Hampton Spring source was washed away in the flood of 1998. The water line ran beneath the Doe River. With water from the city's largest source essentially stopped, the city constructed a 16-inch water line roughly 240 linear feet across the abandoned U.S. Highway 19E bridge that crosses the Doe River. Now, five years later, the bridge has suffered heavy decay and is putting the line's stability in jeopardy.
"We are going to move forward as fast as the engineer recommends," said Elizabethton City Manager Charles Stahl.
The Hampton spring provides the largest supply of water to the city. The evaluation reported that the spring provides one-third of the city's potable water.
In a multiphase evaluation of the bridge, the J.R. Wauford & Co. engineering firm of Maryville evaluated the bridge conditions in June 2002, and again in April and September 2003. The initial visit in June found a 46-foot portion of the bridge's western wall and a bridge deck had fallen into the river. The April visit found additional wall and decking problems, with the bridge's southernmost support separating from the bridge, according to the Wauford evaluation. "In fact, the bridge has begun a very rapid deterioration, is somewhat unstable and could possibly fall in the immediate future," the evaluation states.
September's Wauford evaluation found concrete under the southernmost support weakening and a separation beginning to occur on the eastern wall of the bridge where the water line is located. "It is imperative that the situation be given immediately attention," the evaluation states. "If disruption of service were to occur on this transmission line, Elizabethton does not have the ability to adequately supply its approximately 10,500 customers, which consume approximately 5.5 million MGD (3,850 gallons per minute), with potable water."
If the line was disrupted, service from the Hampton spring would be disrupted for six months and the city's only source of water would come from the Valley Forge spring (900 gallons per minute), the Big Springs Water Treatment Plant (1,400 gallons per minute) and the purchase of water from Johnson City (300 gallons per minute), the report states. This disruption would create a shortage of roughly 1.8 million gallons a day of water in Elizabethton.
Wauford recommends relocating the water line in the streambed of the Doe River at an estimated project cost of $330,000.
City council members will consider whether to hire the Wauford firm to oversee design and construction of the new water line at Thursday night's October meeting. Stahl said there was no evidence of problems with the water line, but said the city was aggressively pursuing a solution to relocate the line. The engineering work will include a preliminary engineering report, and obtaining permits from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the state Department of Environment and Conservation. The agreement sets a total compensation of $37,000 to Wauford & Co. for their engineering and observation work. The city has filed an application to secure $330,000 for the project via a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to cover construction.
"We want to make sure it is a permanent relocation," said Stahl. "We want to be sure it is a relocation that will work for the distant future."
The city Public Works Department is also requesting funds for repairs to a Cherokee waste water pump station. City public works officials say that, without the pump, the city could not respond to a major line breakdown. The city plans to obtain a standby pump unit until the Ebara pump is repaired.
The request asks for a maximum of $7,000 to repair the Ebara brand pump. Bristol Electric Motor Works serves as a factory authorized service center for Ebara pumps, according to the city. Funding for the repairs will come from the city's fiscal year 2004 water and sewer maintenance and operational equipment money.