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Neighbors get exclusive peak inside water storage tanks before they’re sealed.

February 17, 2023 Rachael McDonald, EWEB Communications

EWEB is building two 7.5-million-gallon water storage tanks on a 10-acre property at East 40th and Patterson Street in South Eugene. The tanks are part of our work to improve EWEB’s water storage infrastructure for future resiliency to earthquakes and climate change. People who live nearby have been watching the progress of the work since summer 2021.

About a week before the final panel is placed on the 2nd of two water tanks, EWEB invited neighbors to get an inside look.

“Hey, Hi, how are you?”

On a chilly afternoon, neighbors and EWEB staff gathered at the construction site in south Eugene.

“I’m Laura Farthing,” EWEB’s Laura Farthing introduced herself to the small group. “I’m the project manager and an engineer at EWEB. So, I’ve been up here a lot. And we wanted to get an opportunity to invite neighbors in so you can see inside the tanks before we fully close them up.”

First, a safety briefing.

“We just want to make sure you watch your step,” Farthing explained it’s still a construction site.

Then we walked over to the tanks. They towered over us at 35 feet tall. The east tank is completely enclosed, but the west one is accessible, and so we walk inside the vast structure that’s 212 feet in diameter.

“How many gallons?” asked a neighbor.

“Each tank can hold 7.5 million gallons of water,” Farthing explained. “So, 15 total. Just to put it into comparison. EWEB’s average day demand, that’s what you need to live, is about 23 million gallons a day.”

Farthing said peak demand in the summer is around 53 million gallons per day.

“That’s for the city?” someone asked.

“That’s the whole city,” Farthing said. “So, and after these are connected in, they’ll be able to give water to the entire community.”

“We can go walk back in here so you can get a sense of what it’s going to feel like when it’s really closed in.” Farthing led the group into the enclosed portion of the tank. Her voice echoed in the huge concrete structure.

“This is kind of what they’ll look like when they’re done. You can see the roof, columns,” Farthing said.

Someone asked about rebar along the bottom corner of the cylindrical tank.

“A concrete curb gets poured, a concrete curb gets poured between the floor and the walls at the end,” Farthing explained.

”They have to tighten the cables on the outside first, and that is kind of the last piece, that  keeps the walls from collapsing,”  Travis Cox added. He’s with Pacific Excavation, a contractor building the tanks.

”That’s a good idea,” said the neighbor.

The pre-stressed concrete tanks will be wrapped with high strength wire for earthquake resiliency.

“Now we’re compressing the concrete this way, and they we’ll compress the concrete this way to hold all the water in place,” Cox said.

Outside, Farthing explained that most of the tanks will be fenced off and encased in a berm.

“You won’t see the full tank,” Farthing said. “So, where we walked in will be about 15 feet of dirt at that point. Which is always interesting to stand somewhere. You can mentally take a note. I was here, because eventually, it’ll be under a lot of dirt. But the site will still remain open and accessible to the public.”    

EWEB will initiate a public involvement period for what the property will look like once the tanks are finished. There will be about 8 acres of open space for public use.     

Chelsea Mabie and her daughters Carrigan and Rhoslyn live next door.

“What’s it like to come over to the site and walk around?” I asked.

“It’s nice, because I’ve been having it since I moved in, built, and it’s nice to see how big it is,” Rhoslyn said.  “It’s really impressive.”

“Yeah, it’s really cool to see the process of what it is like to look at it and it’s really interesting to look at,” Carrigan added.

“Yeah, it’s been, as someone getting to see a little progress each day, the scope of how big they are. From the outside, you don’t really take it in until you see the interior,“ Chelsea said.

Chelsea Mabie said that considering the size and scale of the project the construction really hasn’t been too disruptive.

“The construction started just two months after we moved in,” Chelsea Mabie said. “So it really has been just part of us living here.”

The construction of the two tanks is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Site restoration and landscaping will take place in 2024. The tanks will provide water storage for the city of Eugene for the next 100 years.  EWEB is investing in additional earthquake resilient water storage at our College Hill and Hawkins reservoir sites in the coming years.

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