New water towers to increase water pressure, quality

Tenants of Naval District Washington West Area Indian Head will soon notice a marked improvement in water pressure throughout the base with the installation of new water towers. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington is erecting two water towers at Indian Head and one at the Stump Neck Annex as part of a larger project to improve utility services.

“The old towers are deteriorated beyond repair and corroding quickly,” said Lt. Michael O’Donnell, NAVFAC Washington’s Deputy Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, noting that the costs to repair the old towers was about the same as the cost to construct new towers.

The first of the new towers was erected on August 20 and the second was completed on August 23. The new tower at Stump Neck was erected August 26.

A special crane was needed to lift the 550,000-gallon water tanks to the top of the towers. “In my 33 years working with cranes, that’s the largest rubber-tire mobile crane I’ve ever seen,” said Ron Wilder, NAVFAC Washington’s Regional Crane Manager. “The sheer height of this job is the challenge.”

It takes about 10 hours to erect the crane and the special jib and rigging required to lift the 99,000-pound tank to the top of the 165-foot concrete tower. “This is considered a critical lift,” said Wilder. Anything more than 75 percent of a crane’s capacity is considered critical. The job to place the tank atop the tallest tower reached 81.2 percent of the capacity. Despite the challenges, the crew erected the tanks without a hitch
All three towers are painted with the motto “Go Navy,” but the spiffy new look is just the beginning of the benefits of these towers.

“The first thing people will notice is improved water pressure,” said Cathy Gardner, NAVFAC Washington Project Engineer.

Additionally, the water-storage capacity of the new water tower at Stump Neck will enhance the fire protection system there. The old water tank only held 250,000 gallons, while the new tower will double that capacity to more than 550,000 gallons.

Other aspects of the utility improvement project include a modernization of the steam plant, which includes extensive renovation work and installing a reverse osmosis system to replace of the old demineralizer system. Impurities must be removed from the water before it goes into the boiler. “The old demineralizer system uses chemicals to remove impurities, while the reverse osmosis system uses pressure and membranes to remove impurities. The RO system can filter out much smaller particles and even dissolved solids,” said O’Donnell. Work also calls for sandblasting and painting to the boiler feed tank and standpipe at the steam plant.

Two new wells (one on the main base and one at Stump Neck) will pump water directly into the new water tanks. “To alleviate strain on the upper aquifer, we will be tapping into a deeper aquifer for our two new wells,” said O’Donnell, noting that the local community obtains their water from the upper aquifer. “Six existing wells will be closed off and capped, which will also alleviate strain on the upper aquifer.”

Additionally, improvements will be made to the wastewater treatment plant; new pumps will deliver cool water to the steam condensing and auxiliary cooling systems; and a dedicated river water pipeline will be installed to the river water filtration plant. Several new pump houses are being constructed, with anti-terrorism/force protection measures installed. Five old water tanks will be taken down as well as 25 miscellaneous and deteriorating structures around the base.

NAVFAC Washington contracted John C. Grimberg Company, Inc. of Rockville, MD as the primary contractor to perform the $13 million project.

“This is an incredibly diverse project,” said William Bell, Quality Control Manager for Grimberg. “There’s a little bit of everything … piping, towers, reverse osmosis system, construction, demolition.

Grimberg subcontracted Pittsburg Tank Corporation of Pittsburg, KY, to construct the water tanks and hired the special cranes from W. O. Grubb Crane Rental of Baltimore, MD.

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by April 2006 and the project is “on track,” said O’Donnell.

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