I am a chemical engineer and worked as a project engineer for 3M Co. designing chemical manufacturing plants. This included designing storage tanks. Our city is now stuck in a controversy about a water storage tank, the Tanglewood reservoir.
There are aspects of this design that probably require some engineering, such as the best material of construction, proper wall thickness and necessary foundation support. But aside from that, it mostly takes common sense.
Step 1 — What volume of water should the tank hold?
For this you need to look at historical water usage, and extrapolate into the future what you think Frankfort’s water needs will be. And you need to pick a point in the future that is a conservative estimate of how long the tank will last. You don’t want to think short term or else you will find that in another decade or two we will need to go through this all over again.
One also needs to look at peak usage, which takes into account extraordinary events like a major drought, a major fire or a water main break. So let’s conservatively estimate that the tank will last 40 years. Based on the charts I’ve seen, it looks like we need a reservoir that holds somewhere around 7 million gallons. Maybe 6.5 or 7.5 million gallons, but 7 million is a good number.
Step 2 — What is the most economical shape for the tank?
In other words, should the tank be tall and narrow, or short and wide? A round tank is always the best design from a cost, life span and safety standpoint. Based on industry data, one would determine the least expensive design for materials and construction. So you now know that the tank should be about X feet wide and Y feet tall.
Step 3 — What is the best place to put the tank?
In this case, Frankfort has a perfect location. The existing 140-year-old reservoir is on high ground, which helps pressurize the system, and existing piping is in place that connects it to the distribution system. Where on the property should it be placed? Well, you want to connect to the existing piping. You want to leave space for future expansion if that should become necessary. So that narrows down the options. The tank could certainly be a few feet one way or another, but the best spot is where the old reservoir sits today.
Step 4 — How to improve the appearance of the finished water tank?
Most cities have water towers, and proudly paint them with the city name, or maybe the high school mascot, or a clever artistic design. I have seen tanks where mural artists have painted wonderful designs on their tanks. Or one could build a berm around the tank and landscape it with trees, shrubs and flowers. Using evergreen trees would almost obscure the tank itself.
The Frankfort Plant Board has gone through the above steps and, in my judgment, pretty much nailed it. If the Planning and Zoning Department rejected the FPB plan, I wonder why. Did the planning and zoning staff feel the tank was too big or too small? Should it have been moved a few feet one way or another? Did they want a mural or different landscaping?
These would all be worthy points of discussion, and the basis for reaching a plan that is best for all the citizens of Frankfort. But if Planning and Zoning rejected the FPB plan for other reasons, then it reeks of politics and favoritism for some special interest. I would really like to see the city commission let Planning and Zoning do its job, which is focusing on the best design for all of Frankfort’s citizens.
Richard Rosen is a Frankfort resident. His wife, Anna Marie Pavlik Rosen, chairs the Frankfort Plant Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.