Pennsylvania American Water, South Fayette offer glimpse inside water tank

Published Dec 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm (Updated Dec 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm)

From a distance, water tanks can look utilitarian, because they are, after all, for storing water. However, climbing inside one of these 1.5 million gallon tanks offers a whole new perspective on the work that goes into rehabilitating an old tank before it’s filled with water.

On Dec. 13, the rare opportunity to walk inside the unfilled tank was presented. Among those in attendance were South Fayette Township Manager Ryan Eggleston, Township Parks and Recreation Director Butch Truitt, South Fayette firefighters Dan Dernosek and Joe Janocha as well as State Representatives Dan Miller (D-42) and Jesse White (D-46), and several representatives from Pennsylvania American Water.

The township and state officials climbed through a small porthole to gain access inside the 37-foot-by-75-foot tower.

Pennsylvania American Water purchased two old water tanks in South Fayette Township in December 2012 and began renovating them in May. The tanks are across the road from the now-demolished Mayview State Hospital – which closed permanently in 2008 – and were built to primarily serve the hospital.

According to Scott Hilty, project manager for Pennsylvania American Water, the tanks were constructed in 1953 and were last renovated in 1993.

“We spent this summer rehabbing the tanks,” Hilty said. “They will add redundancy to the low-gradient areas.”

It cost about $4 million to rehab the tanks, which included sandblasting, inspecting and painting the tank in South Fayette Township’s signature Kelly green. The tank that faces South Fayette Township is emblazoned with the school district’s “SF” script logo.

Prior to renovation, the tanks were rusty and painted a light blue color and had vines growing on the outside. A security fence was also added to the site surrounding the tanks.

“It’s been a drastic change,” Hilty said.

Integrating the two 1.5 million gallon tanks into the water system will help to avoid service interruption and improve storage capacity for fire protection in South Fayette, Bridgeville, Carnegie, Heidelberg, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.

The finishing touches on the project are still underway and include laying the pipeline which will transfer water from the tank to Pennsylvania American Water’s distribution facility. According to Josephine Posti, spokeswoman for the company, digging for the pipe could commence by next week, depending on the weather.

Hilty said there’s 2,700 linear feet of 16-inch pipe to be laid, as well as electrical lines to be installed. That work will be done by Alex E. Paris Contracting of Atlasburg.

The plans had originally had the finish date for the fall of 2014, however Hilty said if all goes well, the tanks could start to be filled by the end of the year, or at the very latest sometime during the first quarter of 2014.

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