City receives $225,000 FEMA grant to help pay for upgrades; city also pays to renovate tank on Miloris Way

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Columbia City will be installing seismic upgrades on two city water reservoir tanks with funding from FEMA and a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The city will focus on upgrading its two oldest, smaller-sized tanks, located at the intersection of K and 9th streets and on Miloris Way.Columbia City will be upgrading two of its three water reservoirs by retrofitting them to better withstand an earthquake, all thanks to grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, the Columbia City Council was expected to approve a $225,000 grant agreement between the Oregon Military Department and state Office of Emergency Management. OEM administers FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which will provide a funding source for the upgrades.

The city announced the grant selection in November and recently voted on grant agreement language outlining the scope of work. The city's two oldest reservoir tanks, which are close to 40 years old, will be upgraded to withstand seismic activity.

The project will include the construction of concrete ring walls, new anchorage for the tanks, and the installation of flexible pipe connections feeding into the reservoirs — all of which will help mitigate seismic activity impacts, according to project documents.

The city will be required to pay $75,000, or a quarter of the project cost.

City Administrator Leahnette Rivers explained that upgrading the two reservoirs, one of which was built in 1979 and the other in 1984, to withstand seismic activity was identified as a priority project by the city's hazard mitigation committee. The city's newest 1-million-gallon tank was built in 2001 and does not need upgrading.

If the city's water storage tanks failed in an emergency, it could be devastating for property near the tanks and as well endanger human life, Rivers explained.

The two steel reservoirs each hold 200,000 gallons of water. One reservoir is located at the corner of K and 9th streets, while the other sits on Miloris Way.

Additionally, the city will be using loan funds to pay for maintenance and upgrades to the tank on Miloris Way. In August, the city voted to approve acceptance of $762,000 in Safe Drinking Water Act loans, a portion of which is forgivable, to replace piping along 1st Street and pay for upgrades to the reservoir, including a recoating of the inside and outside of the tank with a protective layer.

Because the tank will need to be taken offline during the work period, a temporary storage tank will be brought in to provide water service to that part of the city, Rivers explained. The hope is that completing maintenance work and seismic upgrades at the same time will be more cost effective in the long run, she said.

Working on the tank at K and 9th streets will be less complex since it is installed near the city's newest 1-million-gallon concrete holding tank. When the smaller tank is taken offline during construction, the larger tank, which sits adjacent to it, can be used and no additional storage will be needed.

It is unclear when work will begin on the seismic upgrades. Rivers estimated it could take nine months to a year to have design work completed before a request for bids is issued.

Grant funding for the project will be available until May 18, 2020.

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