Tank needed to help keep North Huntingdon water flowing

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The county water authority needs to refurbish its 5-million-gallon water-storage tank located atop a hill in North Huntingdon's Ardara section.

But before workers can start sandblasting, painting and upgrading the tank, which is at the end of Virginia Avenue of Route 993, a new tank has to be built nearby to keep the water flowing to customers.

North Huntingdon's planning commission is recommending that township commissioners approve a request by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County to construct a 1.5-million gallon water tank behind the existing water tank, said Andrew Blenko, the township's planning director and engineer.

Chris Kerr, the authority's manager, said the main reason the old tank has to be refurbished is because the enamel paint used to coat the interior wears off and allows rust to form.

The project also calls for constructing a detention pond near the new tank to capture any overflow if a pump feeding water into the tank fails to turn off, Kerr said.

Because the new tank would reduce the amount of porous soil in the area, the pond also helps control runoff from rainwater, he said.

Both tanks will be outfitted with “mixers” that are designed to maintain proper chlorine levels in the tank and keep the water “fresh,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Krause questioned whether the water tanks could create problems for nearby homes if they burst as the result of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.

Blenko explained that while the terrain surrounding the tanks provide a natural boundary to capture water “there's no question that if they fail or leak, the water will run down hill.”

He said that in addition to the steel sidewalls, the tanks are reinforced with an inner-steel frame.

Once work on the old water tank is completed, the new tank will continue to be used for additional capacity, Kerr said.

Excavation at the site is expected to create about 17,000 cubic yards of fill that will have to be relocated, Blenko said.

“I don't think it will be hard to find somebody who wants it,” he said. “Clean fill can be a very valuable commodity, so I'm sure somebody will be interested in utilizing it.”

Work on the new $1.2 million tank could begin by August or September and take several months to complete, according to John Ashton, assistant manager of the water authority.

Refurbishing the old tank likely will begin in the spring. The $500,000 restoration also will take several months to finish, Ashton said.

The commissioners were expected to vote on the tank construction at Wednesday's regular meeting, which was conducted after the deadline of this week's newspaper. Check the Norwin Star website for the latest details.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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