Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor
The city of Rome is set to start construction of a water pipeline that will run beneath Berry’s campus within the next few weeks, with plans to finish by January 2020.
According to President Steve Briggs, the pipeline will enter Berry’s property by The Spires, run across campus and exit the property by the Stonebridge community.
The pipeline will not connect to The Spires, but rather bring water from another city of Rome water pipeline near Redmond Road to the growing Stonebridge community north of Berry.
The city will be constructing the entire pipeline, with no work on it being done by Berry. The first rendering of the map brought concern to some professors on campus as they noticed that the proposed line was supposed to run near Martha’s Meadow and Victory Lake, where several research projects are currently happening. Eddie Elsberry, director of environmental compliance and sustainability has been working with Berry and the city to create a safe path across campus that will avoid research areas.
“You have to start with a preliminary drawing, then you work together to come up with a final plan that is best for both parties,” Elsberry said.
The first drawing that the city of Rome had created had the pipeline following the old railroad bed across campus. What the city did not know, as Elsberry describes, is all the research opportunities going on where the old railroad bed passes Victory Lake.
“The City of Rome just looked at it, and thought this will be a great way to move it around, and avoid some things, and not impact other things,” Elsberry said.
After several renderings, Elsberry believes that they are close to finding a solution that will allow the pipeline to cross campus safely without harming any research areas. The only area that will be of concern for most students and faculty is where the pipe crosses through Long Row Field, the field that connects to Deerfield and stretches behind it. Then the pipe will go around Monument Rock and continue past Victory Lake, avoiding Martha’s Meadow.
According to Briggs, construction on campus should be minimal. The pipe is about 12 inches from the inside diameter, and the trenches will be about 3 feet deep. There will be some clearing of trees in order to protect the new pipe from tree roots, but as Briggs describes, the construction should not affect the Berry landscape too much.
The construction of the pipeline will not only benefit Rome, but also Berry. Elsberry explains that Berry will get to benefit from this agreement in two different ways. First is the construction of fire hydrants every 1000 feet that can help with forest fire prevention and protection.
“It is very much favorable, in my eyes, to be able to put these hydrants in and use it for fire suppression instead of to basically dig a fire break around a large area, and let it burn till the fire break,” Elsberry said.
Second is what Elsberry considers a “plan B” for Berry’s future. Right now, Berry’s water runs through a gravity fed pipe from the reservoir, to a treatment plant and then down to main campus. With the construction of the new pipe, Elsberry explains that Berry will be able to tap into the new water line in emergency.
“In case our water plant ever goes out, we can open up to the city side and get our water supply from them,” Elsberry said. “Hopefully that will never happen, but if it does, there’s nothing worse than not having a water supply.”
As the project begins to move forward, Elsberry sees it as a great opportunity for both Rome and Berry.
“I feel it’s a great project for Rome-Floyd County as well as a great project for Berry College,” Elsberry said. “It’s going to give us some things to help us be a safer campus and to help us preserve the timber on campus.”