Monday, March 13, 2006

A Tank for the Times

A Tank for the Times
Project Looks to Future Water Needs
By Tom Hall/Staff Writer

Tetra Tech inspectors Stan Goodman (left) and Adam Nelkie visit the McMurtry Reservoir site Wednesday in north Vacaville. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Anyone standing atop the hills just west of Browns Valley in north Vacaville might imagine some sort of gigantic space vessel is being built below them.

Fear not, however: The massive structure hugging the side of a mountain is no intergalactic starship. It's a 5.6 million-gallon water tank to serve present and future Vacaville residents.

James Loomis, the city's engineer on the $8 million McMurtry Reservoir, said the August completion date for the behemoth concrete contraption is still accurate, depending on how much rain arrives in the next months.

Construction crews plugged away Wednesday at preparing the tank's roof for completion. Half the roof concrete is in place, with the rest to be poured in two sections during the next two weeks, said Stan Goodman of Tetra Tech, an independent inspection services firm.

Seventeen of the tank's 18 wall sections are in place as well, Loomis said. Crews began the project in June 2005, when workers from Gateway Pacific Contractors began digging a massive hole in the eastern side of a rolling slope above Browns Valley.

When finished, the tank will have a diameter of 224 feet and a depth of 28 feet, Loomis said. Water will fill the tank up to 2 feet from the top, with a gravity-based overflow pump in place.

Loomis said the tank will be the largest by far in Vacaville, and will help meet the city's water need for years to come. And it won't just serve people moving into the homes planned for the valley below.

"The reservoirs serve everybody through the city's system," Loomis said.

The tank was actually in planning stages before area residential developments including Cheyenne at Browns Valley and Rogers Ranch gained city approval. Also, a smaller, half-million-gallon tank will be built within those subdivisions to serve directly the new homes.

Browns Valley residents raised concerns when the McMurtry Reservoir was first proposed, rallying against a possible eyesore in the northern hills. Criticisms were based on complaints regarding the Browns Valley Reservoir, a smaller white tank built into the hillside just south of McMurtry a decade ago and called a landscaping eyesore by area residents.

But the McMurtry tank was built with disguise in mind, as only several feet will peek out over the earthen hillside once dirt is backfilled around it, Loomis said. And excess dirt from the tank's construction was trucked to the Browns Valley Reservoir to help build up a screening berm.

Tom Hall can be reached at

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