After an increased number of breaks over the last few years, the water main that runs along Wilson Avenue may be getting replaced.

Tullahoma Utilities Authority officials announced at the Nov. 27 meeting they had begun looking into possible solutions for the water line, which continues to be a problem for TUA. The board approved a $69,000 agreement with its consultant Water Management Services (WMS) in order to begin preliminary work on the project.

The preliminary design, according to the memo, “involves installation of approximately 5,900 feet of [10-inch] C900 PVC water main.”

The area in question, according to Scott Young, the vice president of water and wastewater services, is located on Wilson Avenue in between First and Cumberland avenues.

By Young’s estimation, the line is approximately 55 years old and has reached the end of its useful life.

When the line was originally laid, Young said, Wilson Avenue was more than likely only a two-lane road, with the line getting paved over when the road was expanded.

Because asphalt lays over the main, whenever there is a break in the line, TUA crews must go and repair both the line and the road where the line broke, because it “tears the road all to pieces.”

Young said the line has experienced an “inordinate” number of breaks over the last few years – somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six breaks – prompting TUA to take action on the line.

“[We] decided we really need to replace that line,” Young said.



The estimate from WMS sees the total replacement costs nearing $1 million, though Young said he hopes that figure is the higher end of the estimation.

WMS lists the total price tag for the project at $901,323, though TUA anticipates the actual bid prices would be lower than the WMS estimate. If the bid prices stay in that high six-figure range, however, TUA does have the option to reject bids, according to the memo.

The $69,000 agreement approved by the board includes “not-to-exceed” WMS fees for design, pre-construction and construction monitoring, according to the memo. The agreement states design costs are not to exceed $55,200; pre-construction is not to exceed $3,450; and construction monitoring costs are to stay at or below $10,350.

While those figures are high, the actual costs will likely come to substantially less than the proposed amounts, as they are based on “actual time and hourly rates.”


Added benefits of replacement

In addition to significantly decreasing – or even eliminating – the number of breaks the line will experience, Young said replacing the pipe has other benefits to the community, including in fire suppression and general home usage.

Currently, the water main is a 6-inch-wide line; Young is proposing to upsize the line to a 10-inch line, which will increase “fire flows.”

An increased line size means the fire department could get more water from a hydrant attached to the line in the case of a fire emergency.

Additionally, Young said, the increased line would improve the water pressure of all the surrounding homes that utilize the line.

“We’ve noticed that when we flush [the water lines] that area in the west part of town, the pressures drop a lot more than we like to see them, so that area needs to be boosted up,” he said. “We’re hoping this will help boost the fire flows and residual pressures out in that area.”


No set timeline

While the preliminary work has begun on the project, Young said it would likely be springtime before any work on the project would begin – assuming bids came in at reasonable rates.

If a reasonable bid offer was accepted and work began immediately, Young said, it would likely take just a year to switch out the lines and complete the project, though nothing has been set in stone.

Erin McCullough may be reached at