by Brian Manning
NAVAJO — In order to save thousands of dollars in maintenance fees, the Navajo Western Water District is undertaking a major project that will replace all steel water tanks with glass-lined tanks requiring no maintenance.
Currently steel tanks are required to be sandblasted and repainted every six to ten years. The cost is now about $30,000 per tank since the maintenance is very labor intensive and requires multiple safety measures because of sandblasting and confined space inside these tanks.
Gary Baldwin, president of the water district, is overseeing the project with Ed Rollman, the plant manager. The projected cost of the project was $1.1 million but is coming in $300,000 under budget. The money was obtained by a 30-year, interest-free loan from the Colorado Water Resource Authority. The water district expects to pay off the loan with money saved in maintenance fees and an increase in water bills which went into effect last year.
The water district gets their water supply from wells on the property which is pumped into the storage tanks where it is fed to the system by gravity. This system guarantees a steady supply of water even during a power outage.
The district is installing three prefabricated steel buildings which will house the glass-lined holding tanks. Existing steel tanks are being removed and scrapped.
Each new tank will hold several thousand gallons of water for domestic use and for fire hydrants. When the project is finished, the volume of water will be slightly more that it is now. The fire insurance companies requested this increase in supply. There will also be a slight increase in water pressure which will add pressure to the fire hydrants.
As part of the project, new water meters have been installed and will be maintenance free. Meter reading can be done from a vehicle and meters will report unusual water flow from leaks. These meters are also free of any lead that could find their way into the domestic water.
The project had a slow start due to a backlog of orders in the steel industry, but it is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Many of the contractors are from Huerfano County and nearby areas.