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Big tank makeover wraps up in Wheat Ridge

Historic site sports a new look as twin 10-million-gallon water storage tanks send water to customers.

Driving by West 29th Avenue and Fenton Street, you might think there’s a new park in a quiet Wheat Ridge neighborhood. But tucked away under a hillside at this fenced-off corner sit two brand new water storage tanks.

This is the site of the Ashland Reservoir renovation project, which wrapped up in June at a cost of $34 million and includes two, 10-million-gallon treated water storage tanks along with updated pipes and valves.

The project began in 2012 and the new tanks went in service during the spring of 2017. Final construction and landscaping took another year to complete.

The new storage tanks are circular to improve water quality.

The new tanks are circular and store treated water from the Moffat Treatment Plant in Lakewood before flowing into the distribution system to customer homes.

Both tanks are expected to last for 100 years or more with regular maintenance. They replace two rectangular storage facilities built decades ago that were showing their age and starting to leak.

Benefits of the renovation project include improved water quality, new valves and pipes to improve reliability, and new locations for vaults and manholes to reduce traffic impacts during maintenance projects.

The new tanks are smaller and mostly underground to hide their appearance compared to the older structures. The site also has new landscaping, including trees, bushes and native grasses.

Water storage at the Ashland site dates to 1891 when the Citizens Water Company built two storage reservoirs next to Ashland Avenue, which is now West 29th Avenue. Wood stave pipes delivered water from the reservoirs through Denver’s Highland neighborhood into downtown.

The original reservoirs had compacted dirt floors and walls lined with rock and asphalt, but did not have roofs which led to frequent algae bloom problems. Wood planks were added to cover the reservoirs in the late 1800s and replaced with concrete roofs in 1964 and 1971.

The original reservoirs were built in the 1890s and were not covered.

The valve house from 1934, which once controlled the flow of water in and out of the reservoirs, was restored to preserve the site’s historical significance.

The project required several contractors to complete, of which 19 percent were minority- or women-owned businesses.

Denver Water operates 30 potable water storage tanks across its service area. The tanks play a key role in storing water from the utilities’ three drinking water treatment plants before heading to customers.

The Ashland project is part of a $120 million program to upgrade treated water storage tanks throughout Denver Water’s system.