Ironton water tank project still on horizon

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Being a water reservoir is a thankless job, and one 87-year-old friend in Ironton is still waiting on some well-deserved TLC.

Clearwell No. 1, the 5-million-gallon reservoir sitting atop Nixon Hill, has been in use by Ironton since 1918. A year and a half ago, the old tank started to show some signs of disrepair, and city officials thought it might have been time to put it out to pasture.

In order to extend the life, and to try and stem some of the reservoir's leakage, Ironton City Engineer Phil Biggs and Mark White, the water plant superintendent, had to get a little creative.

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"We drew the elevation of the water level down in the tank, and then these people went in, they were divers," Biggs said. "They went in and injected into the joints a sealing compound that reacts with water and fills up voids."

Initially, the plan was to replace the current tank with a brand new 2-million-gallon tank. But as the divers looked closer, it was discovered that the reservoir still had some good years ahead of it.

Though they city will continue to use Clearwell No. 1, it's still in need of some more thorough repairs that will require it to be taken out of service for about sixth months, Biggs said.

In order to do that, the city will need to construct a 1-million-gallon steel reservoir that will allow crews to renovate No. 1 and still provide the city with the water it needs.

Of course, in the water business, "need" is a relative term. Technically, the city would have enough water without No. 1 after the new tank was constructed, but it would leave the town over a barrel should the river go belly up, Biggs explained.

"The issue here was the concern that if we ever had a spill in the Ohio River, it would give us a lot more capacity to deal with that spill," Biggs said.

"So we could keep enough water stored to allow us to shut our water plant down and go for two or three days easily without having any additional water coming into the system."

In addition, the new reservoir will be elevated enough so that it can gravity feed water to the Indian Hills region, eliminating the need for the costly and dilapidated pneumatic pump station that currently services the area.

The project was supposed to start early this year, but Biggs said little progress has been made in construction of the new tank.

"The city hasn't had the funds to hire out consulting services to have somebody work on this outside, so we've been trying to deal with this in-house," Biggs said.

"Because of all the other activities we've got going on and the shortage of manpower that we've had, we've not gotten very far along."

The project will be paid for with a $300,000 grant from the state, a $300,000 loan and possibly by other funding that the Community Action Organization is attempting to obtain for the city.

The total price tag on the project is estimated to be between $1 million and $1.25 million, Biggs said.

Though he hoped the project would get its start this year, Biggs was unable to say exactly when construction would begin in earnest on the new reservoir.