Residents told to conserve water amid new tank installation

Deconstruction of the old water tank. Photo courtesy of Chuck Salgado.

MARFA — Last week the City of Marfa received a new water storage tank that will replace the recently-deconstructed, leaking, over 50-year-old tank. 

The City on Friday posted a “Water Conservation Notice” to Facebook, instructing residents to “reduce water use as much as possible beginning Wednesday, September 6, until further notice” as the tank is replaced — a project expected to last two to three months. Public Utilities Supervisor Chuck Salgado and City Manager Mandy Roane said conservation would be important while there is no backup water storage during the replacement process. 

The installation of the new ground storage tank, which Marfa City Council originally voted to purchase in June 2021, was delayed due to materials and engineering services. Roane and Salgado explained that the city had to develop a plan to bypass the water storage tank, which typically holds the city’s treated water, for the duration of the installation by rerouting disinfection lines and more. 

“Normally, our wells fill into that ground storage [tank], from there our booster tanks will fill the distribution lines and the elevated tanks,” explained Salgado. “Right now we’ve rerouted it to where the wells are feeding directly into the distribution and into the elevated tanks.” 

The new tank will be located on the same site as the old one at the city’s main water plant at 125 East Washington. The project will run the city around $750,000, and will be paid for with economic relief funds the city received from the U.S. Treasury Department during the pandemic and a recent tax note. Maguire Iron, a water storage and tank company, is managing the construction of the new tank and will maintain it moving forward.

The new steel tank will take up a similar footprint as the decommissioned tank, and will store up to 500,000 gallons of water. It will be fully-welded, as opposed to bolted, a feature that caused issues in the previous ground storage tank, said Salgado. 

“It had quite a few leaks on it,” said Salgado. “We repaired them as [best] we could. But it also just came to the point where we couldn’t even have it half full.” 

The demolition of the old tank is nearly complete, and the next step will be to assess whether a new foundation needs to be constructed. Salgado is of the opinion that the existing foundation is in good shape, he said. The erection of the new tank is slated to begin within the next three weeks. Once complete, the city will begin the process of hooking the tank up to existing plumbing and electrical services, and running tests before it is fully operational. 

Salgado said the old tank was taken offline last Tuesday and so far everything is working as planned.

“Water quality is good. I’m hoping it holds up to the whole project,” said Salgado. “We’re just holding our breath and hoping people conserve and listen and everything will be smooth.”