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Helix Water District recently replaced its 64-year-old “Homelands” tank to increase the facility’s water-storage capacity to 800,000 gallons, enhance system reliability, and satisfy current seismic requirements.

Located in an unincorporated area of San Diego County, the new rectangular structure is made of reinforced, cast-in-place concrete and measures 98 feet long, 54 feet wide, and 26 feet high. The tank is part of the combined Johnstown/Tunnel Hill/Homelands distribution system along the district’s eastern boundary and serves approximately 6950 customer accounts, according to Helix Highlights, a newsletter published by the water district three times a year.

The old water tank

The original Homelands tank, built in 1948, was round (60 feet in diameter) and had a storage capacity of 300,000 gallons of water. To make way for its replacement, the old tank was first drained — the water went “back into distribution for potable consumption“ — and then demolished. When it is time to fill the new tank, the water will come from the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant (in Lakeside).

“All water for storage and distribution to our customers goes through the water-treatment plant first,” said district spokeswoman Kate Breece in a phone interview last week.

With the construction of a tank that nearly tripled the volume of stored water, the Homelands system can “operate independently of other district systems for a longer period of time during a water emergency,” the newsletter states. The larger volume would also “provide greater system redundancy” and “improve fire protection” for that area as well. The publication also announced that the site is completely solar-powered.

Construction on the tank project began in April of 2012 and was estimated at $2.23 million. Besides tearing down the old tank and building the new one, work at the site included improvements to the tank‘s access road, upgrades to security fencing, replacement of associated pipelines, valves, and vaults, paving, and solar-panel installation.

In an email sent on June 7, Breece said, "Job finishes TODAY! Tank is filled, system is up and running, and back on line in the distribution system."

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