In a small community like ours — population 4,000 — the water storage tank is one of the largest and most visible landmarks. We have two: 2-mgd and .43-mgd.
Most water systems take justifiable pride in maintaining treatment plants and pipelines, parts of the water system that, although critical, are largely out of site and out of mind to the general public. But how many communities are just as proud of their storage tanks?
Instead of viewing maintenance as a necessary evil, consider this: That asset preserves the quality of your community's water, stores water that puts out fires, and maintains pressure throughout the system for the benefit of homes, restaurants, and businesses. The tank should receive the same type of regular preventive maintenance as a personal vehicle. At the very least, the maintenance contract should require:
Breaking it down further, the maintenance contract also should require the service provider to:
Given our litigious society, it never hurts to have the proper documentation if you're ever faced with defending operational decisions.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
In this post-9/11 era, it's also important to guard against the potential for vandalism and acts of sabotage.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to install a perimeter fence around the tank and an anti-climb device on all access ladders to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the tank area and climbing the tower. Title 29 in the Code of Federal Regulations provides requirements for the installation of anti-climb and fall-prevention devices.
Depending upon the size and height of your structure, a good anti-climb/fall-prevention device can be installed for a few thousand dollars.
Key control is another important factor in limiting access. Store spare keys to all locks on the tanks away from the tank — the treatment plant, municipal office, or police department office — so only authorized employees have access.
Whenever possible, ask local law enforcement to place tank sites on routine patrol routes.
Cell phone companies may want to install an antenna on the tank for better transmission and signal reception. Your maintenance contractor should be able to broker the space on your behalf and negotiate proper compensation. Approach tank maintenance like you would any investment that you expect to appreciate in value over time. Through thoughtful planning, that asset will provide many years of good service.
— Didawick (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the superintendent of public works for the Town of Woodstock, Va.