Hardin County Water District No. 1 contractors have begun work on two new water tanks at Fort Knox that will eventually replace six of the eight that now dot the Fort Knox landscape.
The two new towers will be much taller than the current ones, greatly increasing water pressure and quality across the installation, said Kevin Addison, project engineer for the Operations and Maintenance Division of Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works.
“In order to make that better, they recommended that we build two new water towers that are 40-feet taller than all our existing water towers,” said Addison.
Hardin County Water District No. 1 took charge of Fort Knox’s water in 2011 under an initiative called the Water Utility Privatization Contract and conducted a survey 2014-15 to determine water conditions and ways to improve the system.
When they met with Fort Knox officials in 2015, their study focused on two areas, said Addison — water pressure, and quality. The survey revealed that the six tanks that hold water can’t push a lot of pressure to outlying areas, and chlorine levels decay both at the top of the water sitting in the tanks and at the farthest areas in the lines.
“These tanks that we currently have don’t turn the water over in the tank and the water at the top gets kind of stagnant,” said Addison. “If we get a big demand for water, we can get some of that old water in the system.”
The new tanks will have a system built in that churns the water to keep chlorine levels consistent. Hardin County Water will also provide relief valves at the end of the pipelines to bleed the lines as an additional measure to maintain proper chlorine levels.
The new tanks, when completed and brought online next year, are also expected to raise the current pound-per-square-inch levels to about 40 psi throughout the installation — an increase of roughly 17 psi — with a goal of 50 psi.
“At the user level, they’ll have better pressure everywhere,” said Addison. “When residents take a shower in the housing areas, they should definitely feel the difference.”
Besides storing the water higher in the air, each tank will hold considerably more water. Most tanks now hold 500,000 gallons; some hold 250,000. The new tanks will each hold 1.5 million gallons.
Another recommendation from the study was to keep using the water fields in Muldraugh, where Fort Knox gets its water, and eventually close the central water plant that sits on the installation. As part of the contract, according to Addison, Hardin County Water will also give the Muldraugh plant a makeover, which will also benefit the residents of Muldraugh.
“The Muldraugh plant is bigger; it has bigger capacity,” said Addison. “So they’re going to renovate the Muldraugh plant next year. It’s going to get a whole new facelift — new piping and a filtration system, and bigger motors to push water uphill to the new tanks.”
The original plan called for refurbishing the six current tanks. Because funds had already been earmarked to implement the plan, changing plans to the new towers and eventual tearing down of the existing ones didn’t create a financial burden to Fort Knox, said Addison.
Construction of the two tanks is expected to be completed sometime in November or December. Addison said demolition of six of the towers will most likely be started in early 2021, after water lines are moved and connected to the new tanks.
The only tanks that will remain when the two new tanks go online are the two that stand in the historic district across the street from Barr Memorial Library. Although they also belong to Hardin County Water as part of the contract, Addison said they will eventually be provided back to Fort Knox and repainted.
“We have some cell towers hanging on them and leaders are wanting to keep them for historical value,” said Addison.
Addison said the relationship between Fort Knox and Hardin County Water has been a win-win for them, but will be an even bigger win for post residents and employees.
“Once we get these tanks up and running, we’re going to have better pressure in the whole system, we’re going to have better fire flow throughout the whole system,” said Addison, “and we’ll have better quality water.”