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Two new replacement water tanks atop Gregory Hill will keep water flowing to homes in the higher-elevation, lower-water-pressure parts of the city, according to Westminster Utilities Engineering Manager Stephen Grooters.“These tanks, the city has very much gotten their money’s worth out of them,” Grooters said of the existing tanks. “Our customers have gotten their money’s worth out of them, but it is very much time to replace them.”But Gregory Hill neighbors who’ve lived with the current tanks since before their homes were built say they don’t understand why the city is in such a hurry.“We only found about this in a letter on June 21,” said neighbor Charlie Ragsdale. “It looks like they’ve done this all in secret and didn’t bother to tell any of us about it until it was too far along for us to stop it. They’ve told us they want to start moving dirt up there in August, and the first we heard about it was June 21.”Due for replacementGrooters said the two tanks, each holding about two million gallons of water, are due to be replaced. The easternmost tank, at about 82nd and Osceola Street, came online in 1954 — its neighbor to the west in 1960.They were by themselves when first built, but are now surrounded by homes to the south. That fact, and how close the two tanks are to each other, makes maintaining them difficult, he said.“We don’t have any active leaks and they are in active use even as we speak,” Grooters said. “But it’s our intention to be proactive when it comes to critical infrastructure like this.”The new tanks would be larger — each would hold about one million gallons of water more and would be nearly twice as tall as the existing tanks. In addition, the city would build a small pumping station to the east. The entire complex would move about 200 feet to the northeast, effectively moving from the dead-end at Osceola Street to the dead-end at Newton Street.PressurePlans also call for replacing the network of pipes connecting the tanks to the rest of Westminster’s water system. The ultimate goal is to maintain and improve water service to zone three, the area roughly between 80th and 104th avenues and Federal Boulevard east to U.S. 36.“Because of their age, the tank replacement project is part an ongoing program to address potable water storage infrastructure,” Grooters said. “By bundling them together, we not only streamline costs we also address impacts to our customers.”The overall zone three project is budgeted for about $40 million overall, he said. The Gregory Hill portion accounts for about $15 million of that.Once Gregory Hill is finished, Grooters said plans call for replacing the elevated water tower that was located behind Sunset Ridge Elementary School. That tower was removed last summer.“We’re not looking in that same location,” he said. “We are looking at replacing it in the vicinity of the hydro-pillar by 97th and and Federal. Both are big components of pressure zone three.”Grooters said the city has received seven bids from contractors to complete the estimated $15 million Gregory Hill work. Grooters said his staff began reviewing the bids on June 29 and was scheduled to update city councilors at a July 10 study session.If councilors can approve the project later this month, Grooters said he’d like to see work on the estimated 18-month-long begin in mid-August.“When it comes to critical infrastructure like this, we absolutely cannot wait for an emergency,” Grooters said. “We’ve done routine inspections on these tanks, with staff dedicated to maintenance on a monthly and daily schedule. And we’ve had structural engineering studies done on these tanks in the past few years, looking at options to rehabiliate the tanks and extend their useful life. We’ve looked at the cost of repairs versus the cost of replacement. And it’s important now to replace them.”But Gregory Hill neighbors said there should be more time to review the project and to consider alternatives.“We really haven’t gotten any info from them,” neighbor Tenny Lindholm said. “We’ve asked and asked and nothing really has happened. We just want some give and take on the situation. They’ve had this thing in the works for two years, that’s what we understand. So why is this the first time we’ve heard about it?”
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