Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tanks for the Memories

The iconic water tanks that proudly proclaim “Success Lives Here” and “Gwinnett Is Great” to hundreds of thousands of motorists on I-85 have become victims of the success for which Gwinnett County has been known for many years. The tanks, roughly 35 years old, are on a list of facilities and equipment made obsolete by recent water system improvements. They will be removed and possibly sold following action by the Board of Commissioners today.

The two famous tanks, a pumping station and a radio tower share a landlocked site off Goshen Springs Road near Jimmy Carter Boulevard adjacent to Interstate 85. Together the tanks once held two million gallons of water and helped pressurize water mains in the area as well as provide water for times of high consumption. But upgrades to the Norcross Pump Station and the installation of a new 24-inch main connecting the water distribution system on both sides of the railroad through the city of Norcross negated the useful function of these tanks.

“It was costing us about $40,000 a year to operate the Goshen Springs facilities, plus painting and maintaining the tanks costs about $250,000 every seven years,” said Lynn Smarr, acting director of Gwinnett’s Water Resources department. She said the tanks and equipment would be put out for bid as surplus.

Another large tank on Medlock Bridge Road near Spalding Drive, which used to say “Water for Peachtree Corners,” and a fourth tall but narrow surge tank near Duluth are also on the list for demolition along with two additional pump stations on Old Peachtree Road at Sunny Hill Road and on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard at Price Road. The capacity of all four tanks is equal to about 90 minutes of usage at today’s pumping rates. “These facilities have served their life expectancy and it is time for them to be retired,” said Smarr. “We have continued to improve the water distribution system over the years, and these facilities no longer add to its functionality.”

“Decommissioning all these tanks and pump stations will save about $100,000 in annual operating costs and about the same in annual capital costs,” according to County Administrator Jock Connell. “So the dismantling cost of about $350,000 would be paid back in cost savings in less than two years.”

“Success Lives Here” has become a well-known slogan used extensively by local governments and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce over the years. A recent online search returned 29 million uses of the phrase. “On one hand, I hate to see those towers go but on the other hand, removing them will certainly help beautify these areas by eliminating the industrial feel of the big tanks,” said Smarr. “And, of course, success will continue to live in Gwinnett County.”
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