Late last year, it was hard for government officials to focus on the importance of water conservation and increasing capacity when images of flooding from Hurricane Katrina were so prevalent in national and global news media.
In Henry County, Ga., however, the need for additional drinking water storage capacity and distribution flexibility was a constant management challenge for the Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority (HCWSA). To enhance its drinking water distribution system, the HCWSA incorporated a 1 million-gal above-ground water storage tank in the northeast part of the county, one of many areas of rapid growth within Henry County’s borders.
The increased storage capacity helped benefit customers right away, especially since the HCWSA faced many days of peak demand for drinking water shortly after the elevated tank was installed, said David Whitson, manager of water production for the HCWSA.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the first months during the fall can be some of the driest months, in terms of rainfall, during the entire year,” Whitson said. “The Northeast Elevated Tank came on line right in time to add much-needed storage capacity and distribution flexibility for our customers.”
HCWSA operators electronically manage the tank from the water production offices at their Towaliga Water Production Plant.
The new Tussahaw Reservoir and Water Production Plant is expected to come on line later this year, but until then, the Towaliga facility is the only water production plant the HCWSA is operating, and its capacity is limited to 24 mgd.
Demand for water
On some days during the summer of 2005, the authority’s customer demand for drinking water required the plant to produce and distribute up to 22 mgd. Purchasing drinking water from neighboring counties was sometimes necessary to help relieve tension on the system during these peak demand occasions, but the average daily output for drinking water hovered around 18 to 19 mgd.
By boosting the authority’s reserves out in the distribution system, the tank now can be utilized during peak demand days and refilled during the evenings, when customer usage tapers off and when there is less stress from production at the Towaliga plant.
Thus, having another storage tank in the system will equate to additional means for replenishing the daily drinking water supply for HCWSA customers. The new tank also helps assure there is adequate water pressure in the system, especially for firefighters using hydrants during emergency responses.
The tank is not designated to serve a single area of the county. Rather, it works in conjunction with other tanks and pump stations to enhance the flexibility and efficiency of the entire drinking water distribution system.
“We’ve expanded the amount of usable water in the system dramatically over the past six to eight years, to the tune of about 14 million gal,” Whitson said. “This is one of many capital improvements within our long-range plans that is intended to keep us ahead of the curve in meeting the growing demands for drinking water by our consumers.”