$8.6 million water tank project on Mesa

       Those big cranes and other equipment outside the Colorado Springs Utilities Mesa water treatment plant at Mesa Road and Fillmore Street mark the start of a three- year, $8.6 million upgrade of the storage tanks that hold most of Colorado Springs' treated drinking water.

The cover of the water tanks can be seen just above ground in this recent shot of construction activity at the Highline water storage facility at Mesa Road and Fillmore Street.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities

       “It's a pretty significant project,” said Patrice Quintero of Utilities. Summarizing how the water is piped in from Pikes Peak (using the 33rd Street diversion on Fountain Creek) and the Western Slope, then treated and tested in the plant, she described the tanks as “sort of a final resting place before 'Joe Neighbor' turns on the faucet.”
       The main part of the work involves replacing the cover of both 10-million-gallon storage tanks.
       Built in 1958, these reservoirs are mostly underground and comprise what's called the Highline water storage facility at the Mesa treatment plant. They provide the water for all of Colorado Springs except some southern areas that are served through the Fountain Valley Water Authority, Quintero said.
       “The replacement is needed because many of the cover supports have become corroded with age,” states a report from Janet Rummel, the Utilities spokesperson for the project. “Without the replacement, the cover could collapse, which would pose a water quality risk. Springs Utilities is doing this work at a time of year when water demands are lower to ensure customers won't be impacted.”
       Quintero elaborated that the Highline corrosion issue was not an emergency type of situation, with the problem having been found during “regular inspections.” She estimated that the current project has been in the planning stages for about two years.

Corrosion is visible on a water storage tank cover support.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities

       But upgrade needs throughout the city water systems loom in the future. Quintero noted that half of them were built before 1983. “So a lot of infrastructure is reaching its retirement party.”
       Rummel's report specifies that “the contractor bid is for the removal of the existing cover and installation of the new cover and liner, along with some other work on the discharge pipelines. The cost also includes engineering services during the construction phase.”
       The payment breakdown is $1.6 million in 2009 (including design and start of construction), $5.5 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in 2011.
       To cover costs, “we have applied for a low-interest loan to fund this project and recently our loan application was approved by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA),” Rummel's report continues. “Potential debt service savings in utilizing the low interest CWRPDA loan are estimated between $3.5 million and $4 million over the life of the loan.”
       Colorado Springs Utilities is an enterprise of the City of Colorado Springs.

Westside Pioneer article