Water tank to be removed | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Water tank to be removed

Emily Aughinbaugh

Several tons of metal will be flown over Industrial Avenue this week.

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is removing a 33-year-old, out-of-service water tank from 300 feet up the side of Twin Peaks.

The 420,000-gallon tank hasn’t been used since last fall and is part of a district project to remove old infrastructure.

The tank sits on U.S. Forest Service land, and the access road up to it was re-vegetated years ago making it difficult to get to, STPUD information officer Dennis Cocking said.

The tank is being taken apart by STPUD employees and the aerial removal was contracted out to Arizona-based Skydance Helicopters.

The helicopter will take four trips to carry the heavy metal plates, weighing nearly 1,800 pounds, over to the sand pits near Industrial Avenue, where the materials will be sold for scrap and hauled off to a landfill.

The tank had to be removed while snow was on the ground to minimize environmental damage caused by machinery and to reduce the risk of fire from welding and cutting operations, Cocking said.

Randy Curtis, supervisor of the five-man crew working on top of and in the tank, spent most of Thursday making sure ember showers were caught by a fire blanket and redirected to the snowbanks below.

Because the snow is melting so rapidly, Cocking said the project will have to be done by mid-April.

“If the weather continues like this we’re really going to have to hustle,” he said.

Ken Schroeder, manager of maintenance, organized the $50,000 project and decided the aerial removal was the most cost-effective approach.

“This is a great example of how the district must come up with unconventional solutions due to the sensitive environmental nature of the Tahoe Basin,” Schroeder said.

The Twin Peaks tank, one of 22 district water tanks, served the industrial area near Gardner Mountain. A larger tank near Twin Peaks was built last year to service the area.

Cocking said many district tanks are built on hills to take advantage of gravity.

“It’s cheap water pressure,” he said.

Although Tahoe’s terrain allows for more efficient service, removing the old tanks from their perches can be a difficult task.

Cocking praised the ingenuity of STPUD’s maintenance department in the removal of the Twin Peaks tank.

“I think of this project as a real feather in our cap,” he said. “A lot of districts don’t tackle these things themselves. But our guys look at these unique projects as a challenge.”

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