Williston Park Ponders Water Tower Replacement

Bill Merklin, a professional engineer with D&B, presenting to the Village of Williston Park Board of Trustees.

The Village of Williston Park Board of Trustees held a public presentation by D&B Engineers and Architects on a replacement or major rehabilitation of the village’s elevated water tank with projected costs between $4 to $7 million.

The presentation was held on Monday, Dec. 4, and was delivered by Bill Merklin, a professional engineer with D&B. The elevated storage tank on Syracuse Street was evaluated by D&B in the spring of 2017 and was determined to have exterior and interior corrosion and metal loss throughout—which Merklin said could impact future water system operations if not addressed.

The elevated tank is almost 90 years old and is considered to be at the end of its useful life. Its capacity is 500,000 gallons and it serves the district’s 7,400 residents as well as an estimated population of 2,500 residents in East Williston.

“We’ve upgraded our whole system, the only remaining piece is the biggest one which is the water tower,” Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar said. “We’d like to just slap a coat of paint on it and move on, but we obviously can’t do that.”

Merklin said the current tank does not meet the new hurricane wind and seismic load structural design standards and was last painted in the early 1990s. It is a riveted steel, multi-leg style tank with 10 legs and interim repairs were performed in 2016.

Breaking down the decision making process into three options, Merklin said the village can either install a ground level water storage tank and booster pump station at $3.9 million, rehabilitate the existing water tank at $4.2 million or replace the existing tank at $6.9 million. Of the choices, D&B recommended a full elevated tank replacement, with Merklin saying it will supply clean water with a sufficient flow and pressure for more than 75 years with maintenance.

“It comes with the lowest projected annual cost, keeps water bills lower and provides customers with the greatest return on investment,” Merklin said.

According to Ehrbar, the cost of the replacement or rehabilitation would be based upon the water rates, which are generated by both Williston Park and East Williston. Financing of the project will come from water fund revenues—not tax revenues.

“Because they (East Williston) will be using water from the new water tank, they’ll be paying for it also,” Ehrbar said. “East Williston is a wholesale purchaser of our water and as part of that expense, their rates will cover their cost of the rebuilding.”

Merklin said the Environmental Facilities Corporation administers New York state funds, which Ehrbar said the village has filed a grant application and received nothing. Ehrbar explained that the funds are reserved mainly for contamination related treatments and said that the village will re-apply next year.

Trustee Teresa Thomann added that the village’s water fund is in good standing, as per audit reports of the village’s finances.

“This is a prime opportunity to deal with our infrastructure,” Thomann said. “Replacing the water tank is the wiser of the numbers.”

Replacing the tank would keep its 500,000 capacity as well as overflow height at 175 feet. Its design would keep pressure in the system longer, which would benefit firefighters during emergencies, requires less maintenance and would meet current hurricane wind and seismic load design standards.

Merklin also outlined the operating and maintenance costs for the three options as the replacement tank being the least at $658,000 per year, rehabilitation at $969,000 per year and the booster pumping station at $1.4 million.

Addressing whether the tank could be moved to a different location, Merklin advised against it, saying the existing water transmission and distribution system has been designed and constructed to accommodate a water storage tank at the existing location. He also said it is on property already owned by the village and is in close proximity to two of the three village wells.

Providing a tentative schedule, Merklin said design and Nassau County Department of Health permitting takes approximately 4 to 6 months, bids would open in summer 2018, construction would begin after Labor Day 2018 and would be on-line before summer 2019. Taking down the existing tower would take less than a week, which Merklin said is the fastest part of the job.

Ehrbar mentioned that the village would be assisted by a neighboring village for water service during construction—most likely Albertson or Mineola.

Merklin said if D&B were hired to do the job, the village would have access to a point person before, during and after construction and any resident with special needs affected by construction is encouraged to reach out to D&B. Merklin also said they are meeting with local officials and neighboring communities such as East Williston to keep them informed.
Ehrbar said the village has given the East Williston village board a copy of the information from D&B. He also remarked that the water services and rates agreement signed in 2016 between East Williston and Williston Park “basically covers the whole operation.”

Merklin explained the importance of an elevated tank as being vital for maintaining pressure within the water supply system, holding water above the distribution system and not requiring pumps to create pressure as is the case with ground level tanks.

In the past five or so years, Williston Park had improvements and upgrades to their water systems, including well number 4 packed tower repairs, painting and repair of the ground level tank on William Street and rehabilitation of wells 1A, 2 and 4 as well as booster pumps.

The village provides customers with approximately 2.7 billion gallons of water each year from three underground wells and their current capacity stores two million gallons of water.
The next public hearing on the water tower project has yet to be announced.

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