Water tower may have to be moved

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Georgetown’s main water tower has been empty for more than a year, following sinkhole formations and the col- lapse of a nearby building. Now, a geotechnical study indicates the tank adjacent to City Hall may need to be moved.

The water tower next to Georgetown City Hall  — drained in 2011 because of the sinkholes — may have to come down.
That’s because recent tests indicate the ground underneath the tank may no longer be able to support its weight.
Interim City Administrator Carey Smith said geotechnical work has taken place since the tank was drained and the tests indicate there is a void underneath three of the legs of the structure.
Smith said the problem was found about 35-40 feet underneath the surface.
“They are only a couple of feet wide. And right now we don’t know much more about it than that,” Smith said. “But it may impact what we do with the tank.”
That particular tank  — which now weighs 216,000 pounds because it is empty but weighs 2.5 million pounds when full — was erected in the 1950s.
“We have to find out more about the voids and the impact on the tower,” Smith said.
At least seven sinkholes formed in the fall of 2011 in areas near City Hall where a $14-million-plus drainage project is still underway.
Currently the water tower near the Maryville bridge is providing service for most of the city. Smith said there have been very few problems with water supply since the City Hall tower was drained.
Mayor Jack Scoville said the City Hall tank is too small and too low and needs to be moved.
Smith said it will cost about $1 million to construct a new tank plus the cost of dismantling the current tank.
He said another option is to continue to use the one tank that is currently in service.
“It’s an option to evaluate,” Smith said.
If council decides to relocate and replace the tank, there may be some financial help from the city’s insurance, Smith said.
“This was all a big surprise,” Smith said.
After the sinkholes formed, monitors were placed around and underneath the tank and there has been no indication of any ground shifts, Smith said.
Council made no decisions at last week’s meeting. The matter will be discussed in greater detail at an upcoming meeting.

By Scott Harper

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