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City of Sistersville installs new water tank, lines

By Staff | Sep 15, 2010

The City of Sistersville is currently constructing a new 499,000 gallon water tank which will tie into the current system and replace an older tank. The water tank is phase two of a project whick also included the installation of new waterlines on Virginia Terrace and Klondike Avenue earlier this year.

Work on a new 499,000 gallon water tank is nearing completion. The mammoth structure will tie into the current system and will replace a tank which has served municipal customers in the City of Sistersville since the 70’s. It’s phase two of a project which also included the installation of water lines on Virginia Terrace and Klondike Avenue earlier this year.

The decision to construct a new tank came in the wake of several issues surrounding the City’s water system, including a series of leaks in the old north tank, but Water Board Chairman Allan Maxwell said the City of Sistersville was lucky to have been awarded grant money to cover most of the construction expenses. Though no one is sure who completed the grant application to obtain the funds in the first place.

Maxwell explained, “We learned we had received an EPA Stag Grant in the amount of $438,900 which required a 55 percent match. The only problem was we didn’t know who applied for the grant or where we were going to find the match.”

Luckily, the city also applied for USDA-RD Grant for another water project and that money, along with funds procured from a low-interest loan, made up for the money needed to cover the 55 percent match.

“The EPA agreed to combine projects into one project,” Maxwell said.

The original scope of the City’s project was geared toward finding a new source of water. The current water treatment plant, constructed around 1923, treat river water. According to Maxwell, the water board decided to search for a site to drill a well, since the Environmental Protection Agency is not as strict with the treatment of well water.

With this in mind, two test wells were drilled near the water treatment plant. Both wells showed sufficient quantities but the manganese in the water was 400 percent higher than allowed. Maxwell said engineers estimated it would cost the City of Sistersville approximately $2.5 million to build a facility to treat the manganese.

Around this point in the project, several leaks were found in the north tank, and because the outside of the water tank was painted with lead-based paint, repair options were limited. The water board made an executive decision to change the scope of the project from the development of a new water source to the replacement of the north water tank.

Once again, the board went through the motions with USDA-RD and the EPA to change the plans for the grant money. And once again, both parties agreed.

Meanwhile, in reviewing the plan for the water line extension, the engineering estimate indicated the city was short of funds. To fill the gap, the City of Sistersville applied for an USDA-RD Sub Grant in the amount of $333,000.

This brought the total grant funding to a staggering $1,131,000.

When bids for the waterline project came back, they were all under budget. This allowed the city to replace additional lines into the scope of the project. It also allowed an additional $25,000 for materials which included extra hydrants and spare parts.

This money, however, was redistributed when a filter failed and needed to be rebuilt at a cost of $79,500.

The grant funding already allowed for $174,000 for water department equipment, and because the State Health Department requires the city to exercise the valves at least twice a year, a Spin Doctor Valve/Vac. This trailer-mounted unit is a powerful vacuum that features a valve and hydrant exerciser. Aside from cleaning man holes, this equipment will save the city thousands of dollars in delays caused by bringing in outside help when valve boxes are damaged or full of debris.

The City also purchased a 4×4 Bobcat utility vehicle with a one-ton dump bed and a 4,000 pound towing capacity. This piece of equipment was fitted with a bucket, forks, street sweeper, snow blade and a 72-inch mower to be used throughout the city for various projects.

The waterline extension is now complete and Maxwell anticipates that the north tank will be completed in mid-October.

The water tank is being constructed by Welding Inc. out of Charleston. The water line project was completed by E.L. Harper and Sons from Parkersburg.

Maxwell commented, “I did not get one complaint on them. They were polite and easy to work with. The engineering inspector said they were the best company he had ever worked with.”

While construction on the water tank is on-going and new test wells were being drilled to find a new water source for the city, routine maintenance will continue throughout the city. However, none of these wells have proved to be a sufficient source of water for the city. Therefore, the city continues to explore other options which may include laying a waterline under the river.

When the new tank is tied into the system, two inoperative valves will be replaced and the line going into Genesis Healthcare’s Sistersville Center will be relocated. Maxwell says he plans for the work to be completed on the midnight shift.

The 6-12 hour outage should not affect the residents, however, a 24-hour boil order will be in effect. Advance notice will be given to customers affected by the valve replacement.