NORWALK — Contractors worked atop the newly built one-million gallon water tank on Spring Hill on Friday afternoon, part of a nearly $9 million project by the First District Water Department to boost water pressure and reliability.
“The three reasons we’re doing this: water quality, reliability of the system and fire-flow protection,” said Dominick M. DiGangi, First Taxing District general manager. “A water system does two things: you drink from it and it puts fires out.”
The $8.8 million project, now nearly a year underway, will replace the existing 100,000-gallon water tank, a 108-foot high, 35-foot wide structure built in 1939, with a million gallon tank that stands 121 feet high and spans 74 feet in width.
The new tank, now gray metal in color, is visible from both Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway.
DiGangi said welding on the new tank just passed inspection and painting will begin in several weeks. The plan is to paint the lower part of the tank dark blue and its upper portion light blue to blend with the sky.
The 100,000-gallon tank will be dismantled and removed. The existing three-million gallon tank will remain and be painted blue.
The project also will install $50,000 of landscaping, including trees to partially screen the water tanks, as well as new sidewalks and curbing along the front of the property on Grandview Avenue. A new fence is already up.
Three contractors are engaged on the project. Caldwell Tanks, of Louisville, Ky., is building the new water tank. M. Rondano, Inc., of Norwalk, has largely installed more than a mile of new water mains throughout the area, according to the Taxing District.
C.H. Nickerson & Co., Inc., of Torrington, is building the new pumping station, into which two modern electric pumps and a third, diesel-powered backup pump, have been installed.
DiGangi said the new pump system guards against potential lengthy power outages in the event of a hurricane or other disaster.
“These pumps will run off our generator which sits behind the building,” DiGangi said. But “if for some reason, the generator doesn’t work, this is a diesel pump. It doesn’t need the generator. All it needs is fuel, and there’s a fuel tank that will be sitting up in the back that will run this system.”
As such, he said, the First District Water Department could provide “maybe half of the city’s water” in the event of a power outage.
DiGangi isn’t the only person thinking about hurricanes.
“If we ever have a hurricane, or anything like that, and that (tank) gives way, we’re gone,” said Spruce Street resident Sheila Boccanfuso. “If that thing ever gives way and the water comes gushing down, we’re gone all around here. I can’t understand why they would want to build something that big.”
Boccanfuso said neighborhood residents believe the project is being undertaken for Norwalk Hospital and new housing being built on West Avenue.
The First Taxing District Water Department serves 40,000 people in Norwalk, including Norwalk Hospital. DiGangi said hospital officials have been “terrific” in coordinating with the Taxing District to install the new water mains in the neighborhood.
Hospital officials could not be reached Friday afternoon to comment on the project.
DiGangi said the project is adhering to the city’s work rules and noise ordinance. Still, he acknowledges that the work has been disruptive to the neighborhood, particularly along Magnolia Avenue, where lengthy sections of water mains were installed.
“There’s a lot going on. Neighbors have had trucks run over the lawn, a little bit of the noise,” DiGangi said.
At the same time, DiGangi says those same residents had a say in the project and will benefit from the improvements.
“The people who live here were the ones who were making the motions and doing the approvals when the project got funded,” DiGangi said. “So they have got a little bit of a vested interest of it.”
Moreover, the Taxing District secured a 2-percent loan from state to fund the project, he said.
“That’s a significant savings to the ratepayers,” DiGangi said.
Officials hope to see the project completed in November. That means having the new water tank and pumping station up and running, and having the neighborhood cleaned up.
“In late summer and early fall, we’re going to mill and overlay all these roads that we’ve touched,” DiGangi said.
** Source: Written by Robert Koch, The Hour