Tennessee American Water will begin excavating across the Tennessee River tonight in anticipation of installing a new 30-inch water main.
The water utility said the process involves using a small charge to crack the rock, which is then excavated from the riverbed leaving a trench. This trench will later be utilized for installing the new pipe. The blasting process takes less than 10 minutes and the work is performed from a barge.
Tennessee American Water began the $3.2 million project to install a 30-inch pipe in the Tennessee River in May. This new pipe will be one of three - and 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.
"Safety of the community and environment are top priorities," said Kurt Stafford, engineering manager for Tennessee American Water. "We have worked closely with various agencies such as the Chattanooga Fire Department, TVA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) to follow all guidelines. The impact is very minimal and most people will not notice that the blasting has occurred since it takes place several feet under water."
When blasting is performed, it will take place after 5 p.m. and the contractor Reynolds will have two boats – one upstream and one downstream about 300 feet – to make sure the radius is clear around the barge. An air horn will be sounded multiple times before the procedure.
The Riverpark behind the Tennessee American Water plant will be temporarily closed for approximately 30 minutes while the discharge materials are delivered to and from the barge, at the beginning and end of the day.
This portion of the project will take around two to three months.