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The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has issued a verbal warning to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival promoters after what is being called “rainwater” was pumped onto private property, upsetting the owner.
The Manchester Times first reported this story shortly after the conclusion of the festival, leading to an investigation from Bonnaroo officials and TDEC involvement.
According to an e-mail from TDEC’s Meg Lockhart, the unknown liquid was rainwater but it should not have been pumped onto private property.
“It is our understanding that the tank held rainwater with no known potential pollutants, which had been pumped into the tank following the very heavy rains,” Lockhart said in an e-mail to the Times.
“I think the contractor’s reasoning was to pump the rainwater out – much like you would do with a flooded building or basement. However, pumping the rainwater onto a neighboring property without permission was not appropriate and we have discussed this with the contractor and concert promoter.”
Lockhart went on to say the water should be distributed in the same locations as grey water.
“The best course of action in this case would’ve been to apply this rainwater to the fields that have been approved for land application of grey water.”
The Times reached out to Director of Bonnaroo Community Relations Jeff Cuellar for comment on this story and what the festival plans to do to correct the actions, but Cuellar did not return an e-mail as of press time.
Grey water is wastewater generated from domestic activites such as laundry, dishwashing and bathing, which can be recycled.
TDEC issued a verbal warning to Bonnaroo, but “the situation itself does not warrant enforcement action.”
“TDEC staff would recommend that going forward the festival promoters ensure all contractors are following their strict guidelines and working with neighboring properties,” Lockhart concluded.
Deployed Resources, LLC, out of Rome, N.Y. handles the water for the annual festival – which just completed its 11th year in Manchester.
According to a letter from Deployed Resources project manager Ray Hamlin, the company took action and pumped the water in a wooded area “approximately 30 to 40 feet away” because of flooding to the staff catering area on Catering Road.
“Just to be clear, at no time was any greywater from catering operations pumped to this area,” the letter from Hamlin to Cuellar reads.
The controversy comes after Donna Presson, who maintains her uncle’s land on Grosch Dr. contacted the Times and TDEC claiming the festival was pumping an unknown liquid onto the land, which butts directly up against Bonnaroo property. But according to Presson, that pumping started before the festival, happened during the festival and also has taken place in years past.
“I’ve been telling them about this for three or four years,” Presson said.