Water Tanks above 36th, an update

I just got off the phone with George Benford, head of Ogden’s public utilities. Since there’s been so much interest in the construction above the 36th Street trailhead, and since I just mentioned the tanks in the story I did last week on the water lines, I thought a bit of expansion was in order.

First, yes, they do need the tanks. This is the first major capacity addition to Ogden’s water system in more than the 30 years that I’ve lived here. George can’t remember how long its been. An extra 4 million gallons capacity is not that much, really, but valuable.

Second, they’re building two tanks up there, one for 5 million gallons and one for 1 million gallons. The current two 1 million gallon tanks will be torn down. That’s why we’re only picking up 4 million new.

Third, the tanks will be underground.

Fourth, one of the reasons the ground up there is so torn up is that they’re digging around among the three — yes, three — earthquake fault lines that cross that area. A water tank crossing a fault line is bad, trust me.

Fifth — The city is also adding a smaller tank (sorry, forgot to ask how big) above 27th Street. This tank is being built on land owned by the Behnken family, which owns the dog food plant. George says it will serve to add more pressure and water quality to homes below Taylor Canyon and, yeah, it will also add the ability to build  homes at the mouth of Taylor Canyon.

I TOLD you we needed to have the Forest Service find the money to buy that land.  As it is, it’s the Behnken family’s land, this is Utah, property rights are sacrosanct.

Sixth — No, the tanks at 36th Street will not adequately do what the tank above 27th will do, or so George says.

I’ve told George what we need to do is run a graphic or map showing all this, so people will know how large the work will be and how extensive the disruption of the land will be.

Sop what does all this mean for development?

Try not to stress out — people can propose anything they want. Peterson proposed a network of million dollar homes above the Mt. Ogden Golf Course and look how far that went, mostly killed by seismic concerns. Mayor Godfrey proposed a gondola, and that’s as dead as Marley’s Ghost.

Reality gets in the way of many a proposal — three earthquake fault lines will make finding financing for any development in the 36th Street trailhead area very iffy. The predictable firestorm of public opposition will also make it iffy. Then there’s the WSU policy that if any of its land is used (as per plans posted by Dan Schroeder at the Weber County Forum) any buildings have to be replaced elsewhere at no cost to the University, which won’t be cheap.

So, sure, be concerned, but temper your concern with realities. Don’t panic, work the problem.


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6 Responses to Water Tanks above 36th, an update

  1. dan s. says:

    Thanks for this nice overview, Charlie.

    Now let’s move on to the hard questions: How, exactly, did they calculate the needed capacity of these new tanks? What problem, exactly, is this new capacity intended to solve?

    Even more interesting: What is the purpose of the new 1-million gallon tank above 36th Street? Where exactly will it be located, and how was this location chosen?

    And finally: Why are they putting these tanks above 36th Street, when the council-approved plan had them farther south? Why didn’t they go to the council when they decided they wanted to amend the plan?

    Now I’m not saying it’s your job to ask all the questions, Charlie. I’m just saying your summary isn’t the final word on this.

    Thanks again.

  2. Diane Stern says:

    Why are the tanks so big above 36th street. They can potentially accommodate a lot of new building in addition to the relatively little increased water pressure.

    Also, why were they moved without prior notification of the city council

    And, what are the plans on Chris Peterson’s property and how do these constructions abet them?

  3. ctrentelman says:

    to answer the questions in turn:

    – The move to 36th Street was announced last year. This is not a surprise. If I were at work I could tell you precisely when it was announced because Schwebke did a large story on the whole project. September rings a bell but don’t quote me.

    – I’m not an engineer, but in a growing city the size of ogden, which has not had new capacity added in decades, if not half centuries, an extra 4 million gallons does not strike me as excessive. Benford said it not only adds capacity but balances flow and pressure from the two ends of the city.

    – You disagree, find a water system engineer and, remember, they’re building for the next 50 years and thousands of users, not immediate needs or some piddly development with a few hundred toilets the mayor may or may not want. That sort of thing is rarely as precisely calculated as one would think.

    Engineers, in short, often guess.

    “When in doubt, build it stout,” is how the UDOT engineer in charge of the Trappers Loop-to-Snowbasin road put it, and despite all his careful calculations his road slipped.

    I don’t have the resources to hire a civic engineer specializing in municipal water systems to go over the city’s plans and, considering the 50 years in the future problem, say they are wrong. If you do, please, put them to work. Do NOT send me the bill.

    – Ogden has well known, and oft-complained about, water quality (dirty looking) AND pressure problems. They say this is to solve that. I have no resources to doubt them. Given the logic of adding capacity described above, I also have no reason to suspect them of lying to me.

    – I have no clue what Chris Peterson is up to. Do you? Do you have access to some person with compromising photos of him that we can lean on?

    Because, unless such access is found, we will not find out anything that Peterson doesn’t want us to find out. He is a private person who owns private property and doesn’t have to tell me, or anyone, squat, and usually doesn’t. Any plan he does have regarding the area of 36th St. would have to cross federally owned land, which will require years of NEPA process. You’ll hear when we do.

    – I have no delusion that anything I do is ever the final word on anything. I am but thy humble scribe, doing my best.

  4. dan s. says:

    Charlie, as far as I know, the pressure problems aren’t near 36th Street–they’re near 27th. Do you know anyone near 36th who has pressure problems? The drinking fountain on the 6th floor of the Science Lab building works fine.

  5. Mark Shenefelt says:

    Hmm, maybe the water will be needed for a $70 million condo and hotel at the top of 36th? http://www.standard.net/live/news/168019/

  6. ctrentelman says:

    I doubt that, mark — adding 500 toilets/users, more or less, to the system hardly requires four million more gallons of capacity. If every room uses 100 gallons a day, that 50,000 gallons a day.

    Think larger — this is just me thinking out loud, but the city’s water system is a huge hydrolic system. Water doesn’t compress, so pressure at each end even with only one reservoir ought to be equal, but it doesn’t work out that way. There’s friction in the system, and it takes time for pressures to equalize.

    The more capacity any system has, the better it can handle stresses and draws on any part of the system because the pressure or draw doesn’t deplete the reservoir, for the same reason that a car tire holds up your ton of car with 30 lbs of pressure in the tires, but my skinny bicycle tires need 100 lbs of pressure to hold up a 27 pound bicycle and a 180 pound rider.

    Or, better, think of how when you are taking a shower and your kid flushes the toilet. Suddenly the water pressure drops because the system in your house can’t handle the sudden drawdown. That’s pretty much what happens when everyone goes home at night and waters their lawn, does the dishes, takes a shower, flushes the toilet, and so on. Suddenly there’s more draw on the system than the pressure from the water tanks on the hill can handle, and the pressure at the top of the system, especially, drops. The secondary system from Pine View Water Systems has the same troubles.

    Having large reservoirs of water at the north and south ends of the system (new tank also going in at 9th street) allows better equalization of pressures and demands.

    Mr. Schroeder’s observation that his drinking fountain on the 6th floor of the Science Building at WSU works well pleases me, and perhaps him, if he is thirsty, but I have no idea how the water system in that building is set up. A tank on the roof, fed by pumped water, would, of course, give him wonderful pressure throughout the building, even on the higher floors. That is, in fact, how most tall buildings are set up. If he should wander up on the roof, he might find it.

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