Water authority replacing Roanoke tank losing 500 gallons per minute

ROANOKE (WSLS) – A leak in a tank at the Crystal Spring Filtration Plant has caused as much as 500 gallon per minute loss of water in the last two years. 

On a normal day, 4 million gallons of water runs through the Crystal Spring Filtration Plant in Roanoke. Most of that water in cleaned and then sent to thousands of customers every day.

Some of that water is stored underneath the tennis courts next to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in a 5 million gallon tank. It was built in the early 1900’s as an open pond and covered in the 1960’s.

Over the years, the Western Virginia Water Authority repaired several leaks in tank. But two years ago, they found a leak too big to fix. At one point, the tank was losing 500 gallons of water per minute.

It’s unclear how much water was lost from the leak in total, but it’s estimated to be in the millions of gallons.

“We knew that there were some cracks in the storage and we had done some repair on those cracks, but we had no idea it was leaking at that rate,” said Western Virginia Water Authority spokesperson Sarah Baumgardner. “It doesn’t surface, so you don’t see pools of water around (the tank).”

The lost water leaked into the soil, eventually finding its way into the Roanoke River. So the water authority opted for a more permanent solution, building a new 185,000 gallon water tank.

The Authority says the new tank will be smaller, more efficient, and most importantly, could save rate-payers money. Baumgardner said the new tank won’t lower water rates initially, but customers could see savings in the long term. 

“A lot of the rate increase goes toward funding infrastructure improvements,” she said. “If we can take savings from our end and use that, it means we may not have to have as large of a rate increase in the future.”

The water authority also loses 25 percent of its water before it ever reached a customer due to overall infrastructure issues.

Baumgardner believes the leaky water tank is a major contributor to that problem. She expects those numbers to improve in the near future.

The new water tank is expected to be finished in May or June 2015.

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