Pennsylvania American Water offers rare look inside water storage tank

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KINGSTON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We count on reliable water service but did you ever really think about what it takes to store the water you receive? Here’s a tour inside a storage tank for a look.

You may be used to seeing water storage tanks like the one that now sports a fresh coat of paint along Hillside Road. But very few of us have seen it from the inside.

“So, it’s a little difficult to talk in here because of the echoing but everybody’s a child the first time they get in and they always like to go, whoop whoop,” PAWC Project Managing Engineer Ralph Wawrzyniakowski said.

So, with some help, lets whoop it up a little. Once inside, you’re swallowed up by the tank that’s 90 feet across and 20 feet high. Rachel Hawk and her six-year-old son Matthew were among the lucky ones to take the tour.

“I thought it was amazing. It kind of was like Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, right. So, that was kind of neat. Feeling like a kid again,” Hawk said.

But that feeling can be a little disorienting, too, with so much white interior, the constant echoing and even occasional movement beneath your feet.

“So, there’s a steel bottom and underneath the steel bottom you have a layer of sand and that gives the floor a little bit of flex because when you have hundreds of thousands of gallons of water pushing down on the floor of the tank, it needs to flex and give when the water is rising and falling,” Wawrzyniakowski said.

The tank built in 1995 can store 900,000 gallons of water but it’s been dry for a time this past summer to allow time to rehabilitate and repaint it.

“And this is her first repaint. So, we got 25 years out of the last coat. We’re hoping to get another 25 out of the next,” Wawrzyniakowski said.

This Hillside tank is one of seven existing storage tanks being rehabilitated by Pennsylvania American Water Company. The total cost to do all that? About $6 million. It’s money that Pennsylvania American Water Company considers well spent.

“We like to use this tank for fire protection, for surge protection, for hydraulic pressure and just in case Aunt Ethel wants to make that pot of coffee in the morning she can rest assured that we have the water capacity here,” Wawrzyniakowski said.

The rehabilitated tank and another one next to it supply water to some 12,000 customers in nine communities. Pennsylvania American Water plans to refill and put the rehabbed tank back in service by mid-October.

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