Pictured is the 150,000 gallon water storage tank, one of the tanks that will be replaced. Built in 1921, the nearly 100 year old tank is the oldest of the three tanks at the O’Brien Water Plant in Erwin. (Contributed photo)

By Kendal Groner

Funding for a water tank replacement project was approved during the Jan. 22 meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The cost of the project is $750,000 with a 20 percent principal forgiveness, amounting to $600,000 that will be repaid, plus interest.

Two water storage tanks will be replaced at the O’Brien Water Plant, located at the end of Gay Street in Erwin. The O’Brien Water Plant pumps water into three storage tanks, a 100,000 gallon tank built in 1921, a 150,000 gallon tank built in 1923, and a 250,000 gallon tank built in 1957.

“The two oldest tanks will be replaced with a new 500,000 gallon tank, and the tank replacement will be out for bid in March,” said Lee Brown, general manager of Erwin Utilities.

This will increase the water storage capacity of the O’Brien Water Plant by approximately 250,000 gallons. Erwin Utilities conducts monthly inspections of the tanks and contracts for a professional tank inspection every five years. These inspections evaluate the overall health and condition of the water tank.

“These inspections indicated it was time for significant tank maintenance,” Brown said. “A life cycle cost analysis determined it was better to replace the two tanks and not perform additional maintenance on them.”

Brown said that Erwin Utilities’ employees work hard to provide safe, reliable and efficient services to the community and their customers every day. Part of that process involves the continuous inspection and evaluation of the water treatment plants, water mains and storage tanks.

“From this continuous inspection and evaluation we determine what is nearing the end of useful life and budget to replace or repair our treatment plants, water mains, and storage tanks,” he said. “Through this continuous inspection, evaluation, repair, and replacement process we can continue to provide safe, reliable, and efficient water service and fire protection to our community everyday.”