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Garden City Water Tower To Get Facelift?

Board of Trustees Considering Tank Replacement or Rehabilitation

To rehabilitate or not to rehabilitate the Garden City water tower, that was the question before the Garden City Board of Trustees at its most recent village board meeting. Richard W. Humann, P.E., vice president of H2M Architects and Engineers, presented an overview of the current tank conditions and costs and offered recommendations to either repair or replace the existing tower.

The water tank, located on Old Country Road, was originally constructed in 1933 and is 79 years of age. A riveted multi-supported steel tank, it was last rehabilitated in 1992. Humann, whose firm has been performing biannual inspections of the tank for the last 10 years, described the structural condition of the tank as “fair.” However, he maintained that the current lead coating system is 20 years of age and is in poor condition.

Humann displayed slides of the current tank areas where the coating system is corroded. “Once the coating system is off the tank, the tank is exposed to the environment and erosion typically persists. Some of these areas are isolated, some of the other areas are a little more pronounced,” he said. “If there is no paint on the steel, in industry terminology, that’s essentially a coating system failure,” he said.

Humann called the tank “unique,” and said it was a common style built on Long Island in the late 1940s, early 1950s. “A lot of these tanks are since no more and they’ve been replaced with more current tanks with a newer design and newer style,” Humann added.

The tank rehabilitation project was designed and bid in February 2011. The project scope included various structural repairs; tank modifications for Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) compliance; a full tank contamination system; removal of exiting coating systems and application of new coating systems. Three companies bid for the project at a price of $2,873 million. The project came in over budget and was ultimately tabled.

Humann described the most difficult part of the project as the site restrictions and tank intricacies, including the time of year and working hours for contractors. “This site is a very tight site and when these contractors come out to rehabilitate the tank, they have a lot of equipment … and the site is too tight,” he said.

In an effort to move the project forward, Humann proposed several considerations for the village to achieve a 15 percent reduction in costs. He suggested permitting spring, summer and fall construction as opposed to only certain times of the year. In addition, he suggested that the village could permit extended working hours and seek further enhancement to site utilization so the contractor can move around more easily. He also proposed an evaluation of alternative coating systems; and to continue pursuit of expanding bid competition from across the country.

The tank is 79 years of age and its industry standard life expectancy is 100 years. The coating system is 20 years of age and typical coating life is 10 to 15 years of age. Humann evaluated the current condition of the tank to have “significant erosion and isolated failures.”

“These are things that we need to address regardless of what we want to do with the tank. If we decide to rehab, if you consider replacing the tank, whatever you consider, there are some things I think we should do and get this done now. It requires some form of action, whatever that action might be,” Humann said.

Humann offered two possible solutions. The village could either rehabilitate the tank or replace it altogether: To rehabilitate, the anticipated cost would be $2.4 to $2.5 million (market driven). He said the benefit would allow the tank to reach its useful life and extend timing for tank replacement and would require it to be out of service for 6 to 8 months. Full lead abatement would be required.

“If you rehabilitate the tank and it doesn’t continue to corrode, and you want to plan for replacement for 20 years or 30 years, you can do that,” he added.

For a full tank replacement, the anticipated cost would run around $6 to $8 million, depending on the tank style chosen and current market costs. According to Humann, replacement would mitigate concerns about the tank life expectancy and take it out of service for 1.5 to 2 years. No lead abatement would be required or any structural improvements, however the exiting tank would need to be demolished.

Trustee John DeMaro asked if the village erected a new tank, would the coating life be the same. Humann said the coatings are made to have a 20-year life on all tanks.

Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh inquired if the location was crucial to the distribution system of the water tank or could it possibly be moved to another spot in the village. Francis J. Koch, P.E., superintendent of the village’s water and sewer department, said it could be moved but there may be issues in other locations.

“The great part of this spot is, it’s there, I don’t think there will be a problem putting a tank there (Old Country Road) again. If we pick another spot in the village, I have a feeling, wherever we go with it, it may be difficult to actually put there. It may be in someone’s backyard,” Koch said.

Mayor Donald Brudie pointed out that even if the village moved the tank to another site, the existing tank would have to be demolished and would raise costs. Humann said moving the tower to a new site would lower the overall cost to replace the tank and estimated demolition could cost anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000.