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PA Water Tanks Undergo Maintenance Work

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2023


Water utility company Pennsylvania American Water is undergoing work to rehabilitate its 1.93-million-gallon Kelker Street tandem water storage tanks in Swatara Township, Pennsylvania.

According to reports, the work is part of the company’s multi-million-dollar project to repair and build new tanks across the state.

Project Background

In May, the company announced that it had been planning to invest $17.5 million in upgrades for various water storage tanks in the Commonwealth.

The company aimed to inspect, abrasive blast-clean and repaint water ranks to improve and protect water quality in Pennsylvania communities.

“Storage tanks help provide suitable water pressure for our communities and important storage reserves for fire protection,” Bruce Aiton, vice president of engineering at Pennsylvania American Water, told ABC 27.

“Proactively maintaining and rehabilitating tanks where there are opportunities to do so provides cost benefits to our customers, and building new tanks helps provide additional capacity for community growth and system resiliency.”

In addition to the Swatara Township tanks, a ground storage tank in Fairview Township, York County, was given $585,000, and another storage tank in Swatara Township, Dauphin County, was awarded $1 million.

About the Tanks

A report from Penn Live states that the Kelker Street tanks were built in 1973 and had last been painted in the early 2000s. At the moment, only one of the tanks has been fully coated and finished. 

“Once every 20 to 30 years our tanks are in need of maintenance so we like to keep the coating system on the interior and the exterior in tip-top shape,” said project manager Ralph Wawrzyniakowski.

“That keeps our steel structure in its best condition for holding potable water for our customers.”

In addition to removing the original paint and apply a new coating, the tank’s structural support will be examined and repaired as needed.

“We take pride in continuously maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure that keeps our water and wastewater systems operating efficiently,” Aiton said in the company’s news release.

“To do this, our engineering and operations teams work closely to conduct detailed inspections, identify potential areas for improvement, and put plans into action to make upgrades that allow us to continue serving our customers with affordable, high-quality, reliable service.”

The release states that this new project has an estimated cost of $2 million and will be completed by repair contractor George Kountoupes Painting Company.

The project is one of eight similar tank rehabilitation projects done by the company across the state this year.

The release adds that the Kelker Street tanks are part of Pennsylvania American Water’s Steelton water system, which makes water available to over 6,000 customers in Steelton Borough and Swatara Township.

Work on the tanks is reportedly expected to be completed by the end of October, 2024. This year, Pennsylvania American Water states that it will repair and repaint ground storage tanks in certain municipalities, including:

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  • Union Township, Washington County - $1,400,000;
  • Smith Township, Washington County - $625,000;
  • Fairview Township, York County - $585,000;
  • Coatesville City, Chester County - $1,000,000;
  • White Township, Indiana County - $320,000;
  • White Township, Indiana County - $1,200,000;
  • Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County - $480,000; and
  • Swatara Township, Dauphin County - $2,000,000.

“Two million gallons is a lot of water. Each one of these holds two million gallons, and, I always laugh, I equate that to beer. It's about 15 million pints of beer in each one of these water tanks,” Wawrzyniakowski told CBS 21.

Additionally, the company stated that it is also building five new ground storage tanks in the following municipalities to provide additional water storage capacity:

  • Laurel Run Borough, Luzerne County - $1,000,000;
  • Roaring Brook Township, Lackawanna County - $6,500,000;
  • Kingston Township, Luzerne County - $100,000;
  • Walker Township, Schuylkill County - $432,000; and
  • White Deer Township, Union County - $2,900,000.

Previous Work

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In May 2021, Pennsylvania American Water announced a different $17 million plan to rehabilitate 11 of its water storage tanks and construct an additional seven new structures throughout the year. 

“Properly and proactively maintaining tanks benefits our customers because of the cost efficiencies we can achieve by rehabilitating rather than replacing them,” noted the water utility company.

According to the company, rehabilitation of the tanks involved various inspections, abrasive blast-cleaning and recoating efforts to extend service lives and further protect the water quality.

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Pennsylvania American Water notes that customers’ water service were not affected by the projects.

The storage tanks that were rehabilitated and repainted included:

  • Baldwin Borough, Allegheny County – 350,000-gallon;
  • Camp Hill Borough, Cumberland County – 2-million-gallon;
  • Crystal Lake, Luzerne County – 1-million-gallon;
  • Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County – 3-million-gallon;
  • Menallen Township, Fayette County – 1-million-gallon;
  • Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County – 430,000-gallon;
  • Sinking Spring, Berks County – 250,000-gallon;
  • Union Township, Washington County – 5-million-gallon; and
  • Union Township, Washington County – 350,000-gallon.

To provide additional water storage capacity, the company will also constructed seven new ground storage tanks in the following municipalities:

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  • Abington Township, Montgomery County – 300,000-gallon;
  • Lehman Township, Pike County – 223,000-gallon;
  • Lehman Township, Pike County – 214,000-gallon;
  • Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County – 500,000-gallon;
  • Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County – 300,000 -gallon;
  • Parkesburg Borough, Chester County – 1-million-gallon (two); and
  • Parkesburg Borough, Chester County – 750,000-gallon.

The new tanks were slated to help Pennsylvania American Water to deliver reliable water service to meet customer demand and provide fire protection. In the past, Pennsylvania American Water has invested more than $40 million to maintain, rehabilitate and construct water storage tanks.

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Tagged categories: Coating Application; Coating Materials; Construction; Maintenance coating work; non-potable water; Ongoing projects; Paint application; potable water; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Surface preparation; Surface Preparation; Tanks; Water Tanks


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