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February 19, 2013

Plans outlined for upgrades to water supply reservoir

MEADVILLE — The process of replacing the reservoir that keeps the City of Meadville, Vernon Township Water Authority and customers in Vernon, Woodcock and West Mead township supplied with water took a step forward when Project Manager Don Nold of Meadville Area Water Authority gave the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission an outline of the MAWA’s preliminary game plan for replacing the historic reservoir.

During the commission’s recent monthly meeting, questions centered on the future of H.P. Way Park, which shares a portion of the MAWA’s four-acre property on the northeast corner of Highland Avenue and Limber Road with the reservoir, and whether a new storage facility couldn’t simply be constructed in a less-visible location.

At this point, the exact location of the tanks is still contingent on the result of a geotechnical subsurface investigation now under way to determine whether the ground is physically capable of supporting two tanks containing a total of 5 million gallons of water. That report is expected to be complete within the next two months.

If the site is suitable, design work should be complete by September and if all proceeds as planned, the current park will be a construction site until the fall of 2014.

If it’s not suitable, it won’t be easy — or inexpensive — to find an alternative.

The city’s entire water system has been constructed to handle the flow of water coming from that reservoir — at that height and in that location. As Nold puts it, the one thing to understand about the entire system is this: Water flows downhill.

Although not all the water in the system flows directly to its final destination from the reservoir, it all goes there first, after being pumped from the MAWA’s Vernon Township wells, which pump on a schedule designed to keep the reservoir at an optimal level to maintain consistent pressure throughout the system.

At an elevation of 1,360 feet, the reservoir supplies water directly to some customers in its pressure zone such as William Gill Commons and Meadville Medical Center’s Liberty Street and Grove Street facilities.

According to a distribution schematic provided by Nold, after flowing down to the Hillcrest Pump Station’s 1,252-foot elevation, reservoir water is pumped up to the Hillcrest tank’s 1,550-foot elevation, from where it flows down to customers in its pressure zone including Neason Hill School in West Mead Township, and the high school-rec complex area.

From its 1,674-foot elevation, the Limber Road tank, which receives its water from the reservoir through the Limber Road pump station, serves customers including the north end of Meadville, Wesbury, The Country Club and Crawford County Fairgrounds.

Logistically and financially speaking, there are huge advantages to keeping the system’s storage facility in approximately the same location and at the same elevation as the reservoir, according to Nold.

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