June 18, 2001
Water tank drained for quake repair
by Jeanette Knutson
Water gushed down the storm drains from the Wellington Reservoir last week, a half million gallons of it. The dumping of water is what Bob Bandarra, general manager of the Woodinville Water District, called "a controlled release."
The Feb. 28 Nisqually quake damaged 16 of the 22 earthquake straps attached to the exterior of the 22-year-old tank located just off 156th Avenue Northeast at Northeast 204th Street.
The chlorine-treated water had to be neutralized before it was dumped, said Bandarra. The tank was drained slowly over a three-day period. The spilled water was valued at $1,500 and could not be sold or hauled to another user because the tank has no valve hookup for that type of operation, explained Bandarra.
"The dumped water will go into the storm drains, eventually finding its way into creeks and streams," said Bandarra. "So I guess it's not a total loss.
"I realize at a time when people are being asked to conserve, it seems odd that we are dumping water, but we had a decision to make. With a 5.1 earthquake just last weekend, we couldn't take a chance. We had to get [the straps] repaired. From a risk perspective, we had to choose. We could pay $5,000 for repairs now or risk losing the entire tank in another earthquake. Then we're talking about $1 million to replace the tank," he said.
Damage to the straps was noticed immediately after the quake. "Preliminary scrutiny revealed at least one broken strap," said Bandarra. "When we did our follow-up examination, we observed more."
The water district applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for repair funds. The additional analysis and considerable paperwork required by FEMA took time. But the district is ready to proceed. Actual strap repair will take a day to complete. Metalurgical X-ray testing of each strap will be needed to verify the fix. That could take a little under a week.
"This is a routine thing we needed to do. The earthquake straps did what they were supposed to do: They held the tank during an earthquake. Now we have to repair them so they can do the same thing in the future," said Bandarra.