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Hampton water project reaches major milestone

A major milestone was reached for the Hampton waterline project this week.Photo by Brandon Hicks
After months of work and multiple tries to connect the water line under Doe River, water is flowing through the new water pipes all the way from the Hampton spring to the Valley Forge community.
Another part of the milestone, a large temporary above-ground water pipe, will be removed from Hampton resident Kenneth Bass’ yard.
Bass has had a temporary above-ground plastic water pipe on his property one Crook Street since June 2010 that is maintaining the water supply from Hampton to Elizabethton. Once the water line has crossed the highway and the river, it can be connected to the pipes at the spring and the line in Bass’ yard can be removed.
Bass previously told the Star he no longer lives in the home with the pipe through the yard, moving into a house that he owns next door to that property. He said it had been “nerve-wracking” for him and his wife to live in the home with the water line so close.
He said he was looking forward to having the line removed from his yard.
Elizabethton Utilities Director Johann Coetzee said that while water is flowing from the Hampton spring to Valley Forge, there is still one portion of the project to be completed.
The final portion is an 80-foot stretch of pipe that extends from the end of the old railroad tunnel, down the mountain side to join to the existing water line to Valley Forge.
“That waterline from Mr. Bass’ property will be repurposed as a temporary bypass if it is reusable, and we hope that it is,” Coetzee said. “We could not address this portion of the water line before because there was no feasible way to do the bypass. We have to maintain the water service to Elizabethton.”
The pipe from Bass’ yard will give the utility a bypass to maintain water flow while the rest of the older water line is replaced. Coetzee said the water line is around 100 years old.
After the line portions are attached, there are some tests that must be completed before the lines are cleared for use.
Coetzee said the lines must be sanitized, then pressure-tested before they are given the official commission to be used.
The project is now expected to be complete in early June, which Coetzee noted is 15 months behind schedule. The original completion date was set for March 2013.
The project is also over budget.
The original budget for the water line replacement was $984,000, and the current budget for the work is $1,045,197.
Coetzee said that even though multiple attempts were required to bore under Doe River and U.S. Highway 19E to connect the waterline from the spring to the line running through the tunnel, the work still helped to keep costs lower than what it would have been if the boring had not been successful.
“This has to be understood that if we were unsuccessful with the bore, then we would have had to do an open cut through the river,” he said. “We would have not been able to control the costs of that as well and it would have meant the project would have been significantly more expensive if we hadn’t done the bore.”