Reservoir replacement project hits milestone

The project to replace the Town of Amherst’s aging reservoir is on time and on budget, says the head of the town’s operations department.

“Things are going well,” Jason MacDonald said. “I’m looking forward to having the long standing issue of low water pressure at the top of the hill resolved.”

The project hit a major milestone on Dec. 12 when the fourth and last pressure reducing valve chamber was installed on the MacDonald Road by contractor Maritech Construction Inc.

Its installation marked the three-quarter point of the $5.5-million project, which town engineer Ben Pitman said is scheduled to wrap up around the end of January.

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A Maritech Construction Inc. employee guides the pressure reducing valve into place.

It also means all of the work related to the project that caused street closures and detours is completed.

“There might be a couple minor detours before the job is done, but there will be no more major detours,” Pitman said. “We want to thank the public for their patience.”

The project, designed by CBCL Ltd., was approved by Amherst town council in June and work to replace the 43-year-old reservoir on Willow Street that is near the end of its useful life began in August.

The old reservoir, a concrete tank capable of holding 13 million litres of water, is being replaced by two, porcelain-lined, steel tanks that combined will hold the same amount of water.

The two new water towers will be several metres taller than the old reservoir. It is the additional height that will help improve the water pressure in the higher elevations of the town.

“It’s a matter of physics,” Pitman explained. “Amherst is built on a hill, which means the homes and businesses in the higher-elevation areas have lower water pressure than those in the lower part of town.”

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The pressure reducing valve chamber gets lowered the last few inches.

By adding new height to the towers, the water pressure in the higher elevations will be increased to about 45 pounds per square inch from about 25 pounds per square inch, Pitman said.

The lower elevations will see an increase as well to about 120 pounds per square inch, a level too high for domestic plumbing. That is why the town strategically instal

led four pressure reducing valve chambers, Pitman said. By placing them on the MacDonald Road, Robert Angus Drive, Willow Street and Church Street, the homes and businesses in the lower elevations will have water pressure of about 100 pounds per square inch – the level they currently have.

Having two tanks also gives the town options, MacDonald said.

“We will be able to take one tank out of commission while keeping the other one operating when we do maintenance. That is something we can’t do now,” he said.

MacDonald praised Maritech Construction.

“We’re proud that we have a local contractor doing the work. They are proving to be very capable and easy to work with,” he said.

The last phase of the project will see the construction of the tanks completed. The foundations have already been poured and work on erecting the steel has started Pitman said.

Seventy-five per cent of the funding for the project is coming from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

“We are very pleased to be able to partner with the federal and provincial governments on this project through the fund,” Mayor David Kogon said. “Without this strategic investment in the town’s infrastructure by these senior levels of government, this project would not have been undertaken at this time.”

“This project has been a significant investment for the town,” MacDonald said. “The end product will be something that all the residents can be proud of.”