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EWEB’s new tanks are now supplying water to Eugene

A new water storage facility in South Eugene is now online. The two 7.5 million gallon tanks are built to withstand a major earthquake.

“The tanks are fully constructed. They actually have water in them now and they are serving all of Eugene,” said Jen Connors, Communications Supervisor for Eugene Water & Electric Board, standing on the edge of the 11-acre property at 40th and Patterson. This property was purchased in the 1950s with plans for it to be a water storage facility for the utility.

Timelapse: Constructing new drinking water storage tanks

EWEB Senior Engineer Chris Irvin said he appreciates the foresight of EWEB to plan for this project. “So we’re hoping that we build these in a way that in another 50 years, people will appreciate the thought and effort that we put into these,” he said.

This construction project started in 2021. It included clearing the site, excavation, and building the tanks and pipes.

Connors said it’s hard to overstate the benefit of the new water tanks to the community.

“Not only are they storing 7.5 million gallons of drinking water that we know we can rely on in an earthquake, but this is the replacement storage that makes it possible for EWEB to tackle other aging water infrastructure in the community that is not built to seismic standards like the College Hill reservoir,” she said.

The utility’s other reservoirs are aging and no longer up to seismic or health code. EWEB’s next task is to replace College Hill Reservoir, which has been drained of water. Work is expected to get underway later this spring or early summer.

EWEB is now trucking in backfill to surround the tanks so that only about 12-15 feet of concrete will remain visible. Then the tanks will be fenced and screened with vegetation. EWEB plans to restore parts of the property with native flora, including an Oak Woodland. That area will be open to the public and is being planned with public and professional input.

EWEB is still building underground pipes to serve the new tanks. That construction on Hilyard street is expected to continue for a few more months.

In a press release, EWEB Senior Engineer and Project Manager Laura Farthing thanked the people who live near the water storage project.

“Since this project began, our north star has been to complete the work as quickly and safely as possible. Despite many challenges, EWEB was able to keep the project largely on schedule, meeting our commitment to neighbors and our community,” said Farthing. “We want to acknowledge and appreciate nearby residents who have endured two years of noise and dust and other impacts to their lives so that everyone in Eugene can have a more resilient drinking water system.”

More information on EWEB’s water infrastructure projects is at EWEB.org/WaterReliability.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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