Water is essential to a community flourishing, not only for drinking and sanitation but also for protection against fire. If an area’s fireflow, the volume and pressure of water available for firefighting, is insufficient, even a small fire could produce significant property damage and endanger lives. Before 2013, the Town of Elkin relied on a single 300,000-gallon elevated water tank to serve approximately 4,000 residents and the Town’s industrial and commercial enterprises. Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital had begun to report issues meeting fireflow requirements, however, and the construction of a proposed Walmart store was expected to further strain existing water resources.
Recognizing the importance of water availability to the growth of business and the safety of all, the Town initiated an effort to procure a second elevated water tank on C.C. Camp Road. At the time, WithersRavenel was working with the nearby City of Sanford to decommission an elevated water tank, making the firm the logical choice for resolving the Town of Elkin’s water challenges. WithersRavenel assisted the Town with property acquisition, grant funding, design, permitting, bidding, construction administration, and inspection services for a second water tank at the same elevation as the original.
After researching the cost of new tanks, WithersRavenel hit upon a better solution: the 500,000-gallon water tank being decommissioned by the City of Sanford was in good condition, and the City was willing to give the dissembled tank to the Town gratis, provided the Town arranged storage and re-assembly. The USDA, which had extended the Town a grant and a low-interest loan, was initially opposed to covering the cost of the used tank, on the grounds that the Town did not need something so large. But once WithersRavenel showed that even a 250,000-gallon tank purchased new would cost more than the 500,000-gallon used tank, the USDA willingly financed the transaction. This creative reuse saved the Town a considerable amount of money and saved valuable materials from the scrap heap.
The final design included the tank, preparation of the 1-acre site, grading for a 1,800-foot-long access road, and 2,000 feet of 12-inch water line to the tank. The new tank enables the Town to connect lines that were previously dead ends, provide water to new businesses interested in opening on C.C. Camp Road, and offer better fire protection to the entire town. It also facilitates the sale of water to Surry County as the County begins running water lines to customers in the area, and opens the possibility of selling water to nearby Wilkes County should that County be interested.