City seeking site for water tank relocation

The Cole Water tank atop a sliding Rattlesnake Hill just east of Sundance. (Jeff Moberg photo)

By Sarah Pridgeon

The Cole Water Storage Tank, which has slowly been slipping downhill over the past few months, will be taken down at the end of September, says Public Works Director Larry Schommer. At present, however, no suitable alternative site has been secured for the tank.

The tank will remain in place until the end of summer, partly to get through the high water demand of the fire season and hot weather and also because the air separators that must be replaced along the line are on order, and will arrive in a month’s time, says Schommer. With the deteriorating condition of the slope on which the tank sits, the city needs to take the tank down before winter arrives, while crews can still reach it and the tank has no yet incurred any damage.

“Herald Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth and Associates, Colorado, the most respected geologists in the western part of the States, felt that the tank should come down in September, we’re working on his recommendation,” explains Schommer.

Finding a replacement site for the tank, however, is not proving an easy task. The city is working with the Forest Service to put the tank on their land, says Schommer, and is investigating a second alternative of placing it on private land in the Orr Subdivision.

“With all the other sites in the area, the estimates come in about $500,000 over budget,” says Schommer. “It wouldn’t be cost effective and we have no funding to make up that difference.”

Stabilizing the original site was also discussed as a potential option, but, says Schommer, “the cost is high with no guarantees.” With the amount of movement seen, the majority of which is under the surface, the estimated cost of re-stabilizing the site is $1.5 million.

Schommer has been communicating with the Forest Service for the past year to find a suitable site on forest lands, but has hit two stumbling blocks. “The major hang-up is the color of the tank, and also that it’s a low foot traffic area, which would make access difficult for cleaning the tank every three to five years,” Schommer explains.

If a suitable site in the area is not found, the tank will be stored and later moved into town because it is necessary for storage and fire suppression.

“From our advice and data from Trihydro, our city engineers, the Orr Subdivision will experience water pressure problems if that happens, and acquiring funds to resolve that will be difficult because the subdivision is outside city limits,” says Schommer.

“It wouldn’t be ideal, hence our work on trying to secure one of the two sites above the subdivision. We have a lot of hours in trying to figure out a way that will work best for everyone.”