Staff and trustees for the Town of Hotchkiss are working toward replacing one of the town's three water storage tanks within the next year, a project that will cost an estimated $1 million.
Town engineer Joanne Fagan presented the proposal at a June 8 public meeting. Of the three storage and treatment tanks, staff is asking to replace the oldest one. More than just an old piece of equipment, the problem is that the tank, which is supported by seven columns, is in disrepair. The columns cause several problems, and currently there is significant rust damage on each of the columns. Additionally, some of the bolts have come out of the rafters and beams, and a poor paint job a few years ago is showing wear and tear.
One option is to continue to repair the tank, on an as-needed basis. That means a repaint job about every five years, Fagan said. That option saves money in the short term, but Fagan said having to repaint every 5-10 years will be an expense, and a lot of labor, over time. Another option is to replace the roof of the tank, getting rid of the seven columns that cause most of the issues. That would allow the town to utilize much of the existing structure, though doing so would potentially cause some structural compromise.
Fagan and public works director Mike Owens instead proposed to replace the tank. They plan to replace the tank with a similar-sized tank. "We've had good operation success with this tank," Fagan explained. The only change they plan to make during construction is to install an aluminum dome roof on the tank, instead of a conventional steel roof. One of the other tanks in the town has an aluminum roof, and while it's not a popular option for other municipal water storage, Fagan and Owens both said they prefer this option. It has a higher initial cost, but doesn't need repainting very often. "Repainting the roof is where the long term repair costs come in," Fagan said. "It will pay for itself by the time we have to repaint it."
"It's so much nicer to go into [the other water] tank and look up and not see rust," Owens said. "There is no maintenance this way. With the other tanks, that's where most of the maintenance is."
The million dollar question is where the money is coming from. Fagan explained that the town is applying for a DOLA grant to help pay for the tank. The grant application is due in August, and the town will hear in December if they will receive the grant. In the meantime, the town is applying for funding through the state health department's State Revolving Fund. That is a loan/grant program -- the state can choose to "grant" the town a portion of the total loan as debt forgiveness. "So far we've been pretty lucky with that," Fagan said.
Construction of the tank should begin in spring of 2018, assuming the funding is in place.