Water Department Innovation Reaches New Heights
By Office of Communication
Posted on January 05, 2012, January 05, 2012

Water Department Innovation 01/2012Motorists passing by the elevated storage tank off Baird Farm Road in North Arlington may have noticed, since early December, what looks like massive patchwork being conducted on the large, white steel structure. In many ways, that is what is being done.

The tank's stem has been literally sliced in half and lifted upward in order to add an additional 11-feet to the middle of the tank, a solution that, in the beginning, seemed a little far-fetched.

"This is a unique project for us," said Water Utilities Director Julie Hunt. "This was one of those ideas that didn't seem so feasible in the beginning. We looked for other utilities that had done a similar tank raising project and couldn't find any. So we began looking for other resources which led us to a contractor who had actually completed a similar project."

Raising the tank was one of three options the City researched to make the proper improvements. The other two were building a pump station and using an electrical energy source to manually control the filling and draining cycle of the tank or starting from scratch by building an entirely new tank.

After reviewing all options, a business case for raising the existing tank became clear.
Methodical and meticulous planning and finding a contractor that was well experienced began.

"Raising the tank was the best and most cost effective solution for this elevated storage tank," said Hunt. "Building a pump station was the second most expensive, and, of course, building a new tank was the most expensive."

As part of the City's routine maintenance and to maintain water quality in the distribution system, the Harwell Elevated Storage Tank (EST) had to undergo infrastructure improvements to optimize system operations.

Constructed in 1981, the Harwell EST has been 11-feet lower in elevation than optimally needed to provide proper pressure and efficiency. In fact, less than half of the two million gallon volume could be efficiently used.

Lifting the Harwell EST by 11-feet will meet the elevation requirements needed to provide improved water system operations and restore full functionality of the tank. In addition, the project, which is expected to be completed by July 2012, will rehabilitate the tank internally and externally.

"Anytime water utilities can find a lower cost option, we are saving our ratepayers money," said Hunt. "That allows us to put money into other projects, like water line renewals."

Hunt said this project has proven that sometimes what seems like a crazy or impossible idea, may actually turn into the best solution, and that water utilities will continue to look for innovative and creative ideas for projects.

"It was pretty amazing to see the tank being lifted," said Hunt. "This was a very interesting, innovative, and amazing project for the water utility department."

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