A person standing at 36th and Harrison today might notice that the two water tanks which stood at the top of 36th Street for over 70 years are gone. Looking higher on the hillside and to the north, the person might notice a bare area with just a hint of a line showing thru the dirt. What they would probably not know is that beneath this bare area is a 5 million gallon water reservoir. Over the past 15 months, this major construction project, which more than doubled the 36th Street storage capacity, was completed within budget and with minimal disruptions to the city's foothill trail system.
According to Justin Anderson, the Ogden city engineer, the new tank means both an increase in the stored water supply for the city and additional safety for residents. The concrete tank was built using state of the art construction techniques to provide seismic protection and water system security. Over 22 miles of steel cable tightly encircles the tank and the tank base is shock mounted. Anderson said that while the main reason for replacing the old tanks was that they had reached the end of their service life, the new tank might well be one of the few sources of water for culinary purposes and fire fighting if a cataclysmic earthquake should strike the Ogden area.
One of the major concerns for the city was minimizing the impact on the foothill trail system. The city engineer's office worked closely with the prime contractor, Build Inc., the late Gibb Wallace who is remembered at the man behind the foothill trail system, and trail volunteers to reroute the Strongs Canyon trails. Tom Jessup, Build Inc.'s general superintendent for the project, said the contractors worked to keep Strongs Creek clean and free of construction runoff and to use the natural rock from the area to shore up the hillside alongside the new pump house and tank access road.
Trail users seem generally pleased with the effort to keep the trails open during construction and to restore the site to its natural condition. Kimalee Crookston from Ogden, who hikes the trails regularly remarked, "...they did a great job of not impacting the environment" and her husband, Paul echoed her feelings. He also added "...its nice to look up from the freeway and not see those old tanks anymore." The tank site will be revegetated with native plants and grasses in the near future and early spring. Justin Anderson estimates that within two years, that for all practical purposes, the area will be indistinguishable from the surrounding terrain. A security fence with intrusion alarms will surround the site to protect the city's water supply and its infrastructure investment.
On June 29, 2011, the new tank went "online" as part of the city's water system. Later projects will connect the tank to the tanks on 46th Street to improve the distribution system and enhance the city's ability to quickly move water where it is needed most.
Most Ogden citizens during the next 100 years will never know the time, effort, and technology that has gone into assuring the availability and safety of their water supply. Little will they suspect that next to their hiking and biking trail lies 5 million gallons of water for their use.
Montgomery is a freelance photographer.