The city of Pickerington is taking a pro-active approach towards ensuring the sustainability of a valuable natural resource -- its water supply and associated infrastructure.

The city of Pickerington is taking a pro-active approach towards ensuring the sustainability of a valuable natural resource -- its water supply and associated infrastructure.

To achieve that goal Pickerington City Council unanimously approved a comprehensive water tank maintenance agreement with Georgia-based Utility Service Company at its July 2 meeting.

The contract is spead out over 10 years at $750,000, a figure that represents a scaled-down version of the original, 10-year, $1.5 million that was proposed earlier in the year.

The maintenance agreement primarily focuses on two of the city's water tanks -- the 750,000-gallon Refugee Road tank off Gray Drive and the 500,000-gallon elevated tank off Longview Street.

Expected work in the first year for the Refugee Road tank includes the application of two new logos as well as visual inspections.

City officials have determined the Longview Street tank to be in the most urgent need of attention.

The contract calls for significant upgrades to get the tank up to EPA and American Water Works Association standards.

Expected costs associated with the remediation of the Longview Tank are in the neighborhood of $500,000 alone, said Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance.

The contract also includes robotic and washout inspections along with any needed emergency services for both tanks.

Pickerington's 1-million gallon tank off East Columbus Street was not included in the services contract.

"The East Columbus Water Tank was initially included in this proposal and then removed as city utility personnel want to have its physical condition re-inspected prior to discussing its inclusion," Vance said.

He stressed the importance of having a water tank maintenance agreement in place.

"All public utilities who utilize potable water storage tanks should make sure that these facilities are kept clean and properly maintained over time due to their being used for the purpose of storing a commodity consumed by a public customer base," Vance said.

A regional coordination, with six area entities negotiating in the form of a steering committee, "did allow Pickerington to negotiate a competitive deal," Vance said.

The steering committee was comprised of officials from Pickerington, Lancaster, Baltimore, Groveport, Delaware and Fairfield County Utilities.

"To date only Pickerington, and now Lancaster, have actually moved forward with legislation to create water tank maintenance programs," Vance said.

Lancaster's pending resolution to approve its contract with Utility Services is scheduled for Monday, July 15.

The attractiveness of the regional approach is that a company can efficiently transport both equipment and personnel to service tanks in one area, thus passing the savings on to the consumer, city officials said.

"It's not the number of entities that actually went forward with agreements that made a positive difference in negotiating Pickerington's first-ever water tank maintenance contract," Vance said.

"It was the potential for the contractors to secure contracts with all involved regionally that really added weight to our negotiating positions," he said.

Vance said the financial flexibility derived from the deal will allow the city to keep its water rates stabilized.

He said Utility Service Co. has also agreed to coordinate removal of the Olde Pickerington Village tank, located by the creamery building, "as a community project at no cost to that water tank's owner."

He said refurbishing that non-functioning water tank, a city landmark, "was investigated but found to be cost prohibitive."