Huge waterline coming out of Hampton man's yard

John Thompson • May 2, 2014 at 7:19 AM

HAMPTON — Thursday was the day Kenneth Bass has been waiting on.

Crews from the Elizabethton Water/Wastewater Department came to his yard in the morning and began disassembling the 12-inch water main that carries 60 percent of the daily water supply for the city of Elizabethton.

“I am glad to see it gone,” Bass said of the light blue waterline that zigzagged through his front and back lawn before diving under the ground just feet from his front door.

“They said it was only temporary when they put it in,” Bass said. That was more than three years ago, and before the project to bring a new waterline from Elizabethton to Hampton Springs.

The time Bass had to put up with the waterline through his front yard was prolonged when the project fell behind schedule. It is now nearing the final steps, but it is 15 months late. It was supposed to be finished in March 2013.

The biggest holdup was within sight of Bass’ front door. The contractor could not bore beneath the Doe River and U.S. Highway 19E to extend the line into Hampton.

The problem was rock. Not the solid granite wall that contractors could drill through. The problem was the common, everyday variety of river rock the size of basketballs or larger. A hole could be bored through them, but the vibrations as the subcontractor attempted to pull the pipe through caused more rock to come loose and block the hole.

The problem was finally solved by reversing positions and having the boring equipment working from the Rittertown side instead of the Hampton side.

The pipe was finally pulled through Tuesday. By Thursday, Nate Stonecipher, Bandon Hodges and other members of the Water Department were busy unbolting the temporary line in Bass’ yard and removing it.

The valuable waterline will not be wasted. Elizabethton Utilities Director Johann Coetzee said the line will be used to construct a new bypass.

As for Bass, he is looking forward to being able to mow his lawn for the first time in three years without having the large waterline in the way.

“I don’t have to carry my lawn mower over it anymore,” Bass said.

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