By Elena Cawley, Staff Writer
A partnership between Bonnaroo owners, Coffee County, the Manchester Water Department (MWD) and the federal government via the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant has led to providing additional water access to the Great Stage Park, the 700-acre home of the festival and improving the water infrastructure of Manchester.
The amount awarded by ARC was $500,000, which would be matched with $650,000 contributed by the owners of Bonnaroo, $100,000 funded by the City of Manchester and $150,000 funded by Coffee County, for a total of $1.4 million to be invested in the project.
This improved water infrastructure will allow for permanent structures to be built at the festival grounds and additional events held there throughout the year.
“The Manchester Water and Sewer Department currently operates a water system that serves the City of Manchester and portions of Coffee County, including the Bonnaroo area,” said Bryan Pennington, director of Manchester Water and Sewer.
Pennington said there are two separate projects related to providing the Great Stage Park with a source of potable water: Phase One and Phase Two.
“Phase One was a 12-inch loop that began on Campground Road near Highway 41, proceeded through the Bonnaroo property and terminated on New Bushy Branch Road,” Pennington said.
This phase took about three months to complete and was placed into service in the spring of 2016, according to Pennington.
“Bonnaroo paid for this in total and then donated the infrastructure to the Manchester Water Department,” Pennington said. “Through their engineers, Bonnaroo designed the line to be more than a simple feed for the Great Stage Lands, and, therefore, designed a water system that looped two existing water pressure grids together, thus raising the pressure and flow volume for the south end of town.”
Phase Two is a partnership project between Coffee County, MWD, the federal government the ARC grant and Bonnaroo owners, said Pennington.
“For this project, Bonnaroo was the single largest contributor of funding,” Pennington said. “Phase Two will create another loop in our distribution system that begins near Highland Drive and will terminate on Highway 41 near Aaron’s Rentals.”
This phase is out for bids at this time, and no construction has begun, according to Pennington.
“In approximately 1995, the MWD recognized the need for a 16-inch waterline loop for the south end of town, and, while designing Phase One of the Highway 41 widening project, a 16-inch stub-out was placed in the main,” Pennington said. “For that project, a 16-inch line was installed beginning near the Manchester Post Office and terminated south of Interstate 24.”
Currently, this main line in the water supply system is fed by a series of smaller lines, which limits its flow capabilities since there is not a continuous segment of 16-inch water main from the MWD water tanks to south end of town, according to Pennington.
“Upon completion of the new 16-inch water line project, the city will have a water main that can convey water from our main water source feed point to the I-24 exit 114 area,” Pennington said. “Creating these loops in our system improves the overall hydraulics of our distribution system on the south end of town.”
Businesses and local residents will benefit from the improved infrastructure.
“These new lines give the MWD the ability to provide more water to the Manchester Industrial Park, the Coffee County Interstate Industrial Park, the new Coffee County Jail, Hillsville Utility District, (a customer of the MWD) current existing customers, and vacant development land in the area.”
The partnership with the owners of the Great Stage Park has been essential, said Pennington.
“Bonnaroo has helped the community to complete two major long-term projects by allocating money in their long-term planning process,” Pennington said.
A secondary benefit is that Bonnaroo has become an additional customer, added Pennington.
“Not only will our community benefit from these two projects, but the overall Bonnaroo experience has been improved by having a continual source of potable water, new restrooms, fire hydrants for on-site fire protection and shower facilities.”
Without the help of Bonnaroo representatives, Coffee County and the ARC grant, the water infrastructure projects could not have been completed and planned in such a timely manner, said Pennington.
Jeff Cuellar, who represents Bonnaroo owners, said the partnership between festival’s organizers and local governments has helped to bring federal funding resources.
“We worked with the USDA-ARC, Manchester and Coffee County to expand major pipelines that improved water flow countywide, something that wouldn’t have been possible without a coordinated public/private effort,” Cuellar said. “It is just one example of the power of working together toward the common goal of increasing tourism, jobs, and economic growth in Coffee County, and it ensures we’ll be here for many years to come.”
Coffee County and Bonnaroo representatives have been working on a new contract between the parties, since the previous contract expired in June.
“We would like to have an agreement in place prior to Bonnaroo 2018,” said Sam Reed, who represents the festival’s organizers. “We have a working framework of a deal that we hope to finalize in the early new year.”
Festival’s organizers have invested additional funds to enhance the site, in addition to improving water infrastructure.
“There would be an additional $2 million in on-site infrastructure spent prior to Bonnaroo 2018.”