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Montville WPCA set to renovate or replace water tower

Montville — The town’s Water Pollution Control Authority has had its bid for a $776,000 grant approved that will go toward either significantly renovating or replacing the water tower off Cook Road.

The state Department of Public Health is supplying the grant as well as a low-interest loan of the same amount.

In a letter on Nov. 12, the health department informed Montville Water Supply of the decision, saying that the Drinking Water Section of the department “has determined that your project appears ready to proceed” during the state’s 2021 fiscal year. The funds will pay for the planning, design and construction.

Now, the WPCA Commission must choose between renovating and replacing, but if it decides to replace, it also has to decide on what a new water tower would look like. The current water tower is a 98-foot-tall steel tank with a 90-foot water level. Other options include replacing the steel tank with a 90-foot-tall concrete tank or a 93-foot, glass-fused-to-steel tank.

If the commission does opt for a new water tower, it would be built adjacent to the existing tower.

WPCA Superintendent Derek Albertson said applying for the grant was a preventative, cost-effective measure.

“You always have to remedy steel tanks due to corrosion, and painting these things is extremely expensive,” Albertson said. “The commission has to consider what’s the cost to remedy the identified corrosion in the existing tank? In the case of the glass-lined or concrete tank, those can go on and on, and you don’t have to remedy. You’re not going to see the corrosion.”

The water tower's elevation ensures pressure in supply lines to houses. In recent inspections of the tower, Albertson said, some corrosion was identified, but there are “no immediate concerns,” and the corrosion “will be remedied by treatment and painting.” 

“The exterior and interior coating had worn, and the tank surface had rusted in some locations and will require attention,” Nov. 2 commission meeting minutes read. “The Town Engineer (Wright-Pierce) discussed proposed work (i.e. cleaning, painting) which will involve a bypass event where pump stations will be used to establish pressure during the time the tank is offline.” 

Wright-Pierce completed a study, the cost of which was covered by the grant, this month. The engineering firm suggested that a glass-fused-to-steel tank would be the best course. 

Albertson, and information distributed among WPCA Commission members, said that water use has been down in Montville, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Albertson is bullish about this grant as well as a recently installed fuel cell — both moves are meant to save money in the long run. A fuel cell, which generates electricity and heat from natural gas merging with oxygen from the air, was installed at the WPCA facility in April. The equipment represents a partnership between the WPCA and Eversource Energy.

As for the tower project, Albertson will submit a Financial Assistance Application to the state by Dec. 12 with engineering, environmental, labor and financial information. He said funding will likely become available within a year after that. 

s.spinella@theday.com

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