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On tap: major water storage changes in Eugene

Two 7.5 million gallon tanks under construction in South Eugene
Karen Richards
EWEB said the two tanks on East 40th Avenue will be largely buried when all the work is completed.

The Eugene Water and Electric Board is in the middle of some major changes to its water storage and distribution plan. They’re meant to make the system earthquake-ready.

Construction began last summer in South Eugene at a 10-acre EWEB property on East 40th Avenue. By the end of the year, two 7.5 million gallon tanks will be in use. When the project is done, there will be eight acres available for public use. Those areas will be finalized in 2024.

EWEB engineer Laura Farthing said right now, the 40th Street site is closed to the public while engineers wrap the tanks with wire and seismically strengthen it. She said in June, EWEB will start work to enable water to get into and out of the tanks. That will involve road closures on Patterson and Hilyard while new 36-inch pipes and a new storm drain system are installed. She said the utility is working with the City of Eugene on a timeline and a traffic control plan.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority has required the College Hill Reservoir be out of use by the end of the year, due to leaking joints in the 80-year old roof. Farthing said they’ll drain the tank as soon as the 40th Ave storage is online.

Farthing told KLCC site design is in the early planning stages, but the existing College Hill Reservoir, with its 2.5 acre paved top, will be demolished and replaced with two smaller tanks. “The first thing we’ll start with is, they are considered significant historic structures, it’s a state Historic Preservation Office term." She said, adding, "So there is a public process that is included with that. That’ll be happening in 2023.”

She said in the past, EWEB has created plaques at historic sites, but they’ll use a consultant to run the public process.

View of the College Hill reservoir complex, including two flat-topped reservoirs and a green storage tank
Karen Richards
The College Hill reservoir complex includes two flat-topped reservoirs and a green storage tank (center, in the distance)

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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