East Mountain Water Tank replacement underway

Heather Stayton, P.E., Systems Engineer with the Westfield Water Department. (AMY PORTER / THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD – Residents of the East Mountain Road area have noticed clearing in the vicinity of the city’s water tank, and last week a notice was posted on the city website that residents and business owners may experience a reduction in water pressure and at times, dirty water.
The reason, according to Public Works Systems Engineer Heather Stayton, is that work has begun to replace the East Mountain water tank.
Stayton said the city has selectively cleared the site of trees for the upcoming construction, and is currently working on water main improvements, which may have impacted the water pressure during the day from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14.
The replacement of the water tank is one part of the $18 million in bonds for water system work which passed the City Council in 2017 and 2018. The city received permits for the work on the water tank from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Aviation Administration, among others. There are no wetlands on the site, which is not under Conservation Commission jurisdiction, Stayton said.
The selective clearing has been completed, and what remains is to remove the trees and stumps from the site. “The new tank will be constructed alongside the existing tank, so we can keep the existing tank in service and switch over without interrupting service,” Stayton said.
The city plans to finish the water main upgrade this winter when demand is lower, and then wait until nice weather for the start of construction of the actual tank. Stayton said the pre-cast concrete tank will be formed in panels onsite. Those panels are then lifted into place with a crane, and the connections between them completed. The tank will then be tied and reinforced with epoxy seals and resin.
Stayton said the pre-cast concrete tank should be finished in one construction season, with some finish work anticipated. She said the water tank should be fully operational by mid-2021.
The new tank will be 2.1 million gallons compared to the old tank, which is 2.7 million gallons. “The slightly smaller footprint allowed us to keep the old one online and still have a good buffer of what we know we need. There is a good healthy buffer in the size of the new tank,” Stayton said.
After the new tank is up and operational, the city will demolish the old one and restore the site to a natural state during the construction season of 2021.
Stayton said the East Mountain Road water tank keeps the north side of the city in adequate pressure.
“We’re required to make sure there’s enough pressure at any point in the water system,” she said.
Explaining the role of the water tank in the city’s water system, Stayton said the wells pull water from the aquifer at a slow but steady rate. The water is pumped into the storage tank from the wells, and gets used when needed when there is more demand; such as first thing in the morning when the demand is faster than can be pumped from the wells, the tank supplies water.
Stayton said the tank also supplies water when there is low pressure. “You need a tank to have pressure at everybody’s tap,” she said.
The contract price for the East Mountain water tank replacement is $2,860,097.

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