Officials said they are confident the project won’t affect recreational river users and athletes who train in the water, and the Tennessee RiverPark will remain open. (Photo: Bob Butters)

During the week of May 21, Tennessee American Water will begin a $3.2 million project to install a 30-inch pipe in the Tennessee River.

This pipe is one of three— and is the largest—that delivers water to the 20,000 customers on the north side of Chattanooga, Red Bank and Signal Mountain.

The pipe adds redundancy and resiliency to the water delivery system to assure reliable water services, according to a news release.

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“Reliable water infrastructure is a critical part of economic stability and growth,” Kurt Stafford, engineering manager for Tennessee American Water, said in a prepared statement.

A 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers study found that water service interruption for one day can result in a 75 percent sales loss for businesses that rely on water, he also said.

The contractor company, Reynolds Construction, will stage a barge on the Tennessee River to excavate the river bottom in order to lay the pipe and bury it.

Divers will install the pipes and lock the sections together. The barge will be visible to users of the Tennessee RiverPark and the waterway behind the Tennessee American Water plant on Riverside Drive.

The project is expected to last through November.

“The last pipe that Tennessee American Water installed in the river was in 1963,” Stafford said. “While this unique project is not one that you would see every day, we have the expertise and knowledge to perform the work both safely and efficiently.”

Top goals are safety and minimizing disruption to the waterways for users and the environment, according to the news release.

Tennessee American Water has worked with the City of Chattanooga to identify special events on or along the river. Tennessee American Water has permits from TVA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the City of Chattanooga.

“We are confident that recreational users and athletes who train and compete on the water will not be impacted,” Stafford said. “We can stop work to accommodate these events if needed. The Tennessee RiverPark will remain open for the duration.”

President of Tennessee American Water Val Armstrong said in a prepared statement:

When it comes to infrastructure, most people instantly think of roads and bridges. Those of us in the water business think about our pipes and other assets.

Water is almost always the least expensive of utility bills, but replacing underground pipes is expensive. Water providers help make customers aware of the true value of a clean drinking water system.

At Tennessee American Water we are committed to making continuous infrastructure investments of about $20 million annually while balancing this with the price paid by our customers.

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