Archived Story

Water reservoir built to last

Published 10:12am Friday, November 2, 2012

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Tank will provide Hormel Foods plant with water

When it comes to the new water reservoir at Energy Park on 14th Street Northeast, Austin Utilities is preparing for the long haul, and Austin residents could benefit.

The 2 million gallon reservoir being built south of Todd Park will be entirely concrete, which is less common than all-steel tanks like the one downtown. Director of Gas and Water Operations Todd Jorgenson said the painting and reconditioning needed to cut down on rust in steel tanks can be costly. Concrete promises to last longer with fewer maintenance costs.

A concrete reservoir will help Austin residents, too, said Engineering Supervisor Keven Maxa

“It’ll keep their costs down over the long term,” he said.

New York-based construction firm Preload Inc. should be finished with this stage of work on the reservoir within a few weeks, depending on weather. In the spring, crews will resume work to test for leaks and ultimately paint the tank to match the other structures in Energy Park.

About two weeks ago, local firm Wagner Construction began building the pump house, which shelters a 960-foot well dug last spring. Crews had to wait to build the structure until the reservoir reached a certain point.

“We didn’t want two contractors competing for the same space,” Jorgenson said.

Hormel Foods Manager of External Communications Rick Williamson said the new reservoir will allow the Hormel Foods plant to rely on Austin Utilities for the bulk of its water supply while it performs maintenance on its own water system.

“The reservoir itself is pretty much being paid for by the additional money we’ll have coming in from Hormel,” Maxa said.

The $3.2-million project — which will come from a mixture of Austin Utilities’ operating budget, Capital Improvement Plan funds and a debt of bonds — accounts for the city’s growing need. The reservoir should increase Austin’s water capacity by 50 percent, Maxa said.

“We’ve had some customer growth, and just the general expansion of water volume and usage has grown over the years,” said Mark Nibaur, general manager with Austin Utilities.

The new reservoir and well are the latest in a series of water system improvements Utilities has made, and joins Austin’s existing reservoir, two water towers and seven wells. Nibaur said the reservoir, when it’s finished in summer 2013, will satiate the city’s water needs for the foreseeable future.

“It’ll probably be a long time before we see more water storage in Austin,” he said.

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