Carbonation, anyone? Just before 1 AM last Tuesday, Sept. 14, reader Ayrton Ashick snapped this shot of lightning striking the existing water tank behind Fire Station 1 during that night's thunderstorm. No damage was reported. AYRTON ASHICK

Preferred site is off Lookout Street

One might call it a “fluid situation.”

Urban intensification in Fonthill has prompted the Region to address the water needs of the municipality. Currently, one elevated water tank sits on Highway 20, behind Fire Station 1. A new elevated tank is planned for construction in 2022. Once the new tank is operational, the existing tank will be decommissioned.

Michelle Miller, the Project Manager of Water and Wastewater Engineering for the Niagara Region, told the Voice that the tank project is being undertaken to make necessary improvements to the town’s current and future service, especially related to system pressure and flow capacity. She said that Niagara Region and the Town of Pelham identified a list of seven possible sites in North Pelham that could potentially meet the project’s objectives, based on property mapping, elevation in the area, and location related to the existing tower and associated infrastructure.

“The seven potential sites were each evaluated based on social, economical, technical, archaeological, and environmental categories, from which a shortlist of three possible sites was generated,” said Miller. “Further evaluation of the shortlisted sites found a preferred site located south of the existing Lookout Point golf driving range, at 220 Tice Road, to have the fewest impacts based on the evaluation criteria.”

Miller said that the proposal of the site south of the Lookout Point driving range as the preferred location was brought forward to the public for feedback in the fall of 2019. Niagara Region conducted additional screening and re-evaluation of potential sites, with the location south of the driving range again emerging as the preferred site. The information from the re-evaluation was presented to the public for feedback until September 14, and is currently being reviewed.

Jason Marr, Pelham’s Director of Public Works, told the Voice that the new water tower needs to be in a location with high elevation, which provides the greatest pressure for the whole system.

“The water tank needs to be of a sufficient size to support future development in the town, and you need a land mass that’s able to support that size,” he said.

Marr noted that the subdivision directly between Lookout Street and Haist Street has low water pressure, which would be alleviated by the new water tower.

The water tank needs to be of a sufficient size to support future development in the town, and you need a land mass that’s able to support that size

“We currently have to pump water to that area, and there are maintenance issues and ongoing costs associated with that. The new water tank location will hopefully eliminate that need for that booster pump.”

The Town of Pelham is part of the larger Welland water system. The Welland Water Treatment Plant pumps water to the Shoalts Drive Reservoir, in Fonthill, which is a large underground storage tank. From there, it gets treated again, and then water is pumped up to the water storage tank located behind the fire station.

“It’s gravity fed down from that water tank, and the further the water tank is away from the distribution system, the more likely you are to get water quality issues,” said Marr. “We try to keep as close as possible to the distribution system with the highest elevation.”

The current elevated tank on Highway 20 holds 2.3 million litres, and the new elevated tank will hold 6 million litres to address current water volume shortage and accommodate growth. The new tank will be 44 metres above ground, about 15 metres taller than the current tank. A taller elevated tank is required to have sufficient pressure for the northern developed areas that are at a higher elevation.

The top of the new tank will be painted the same as the Region’s other elevated tanks—white with the Niagara Region logo. The bottom of the tank will be concrete, and appear similar to the existing tank. Coating technology has improved significantly over the years, and now features greater ultraviolet resistance and durability. Routine maintenance of the tank will preserve the appearance.

Rob Hickson, General Manager and Director of Golf at Lookout Point Country Club, confirmed that the club owns the land designated as the Region’s preferred site, but said no deal has been struck.

“The Region has only approached us about a possibility,” said Hickson. “They’ve got to go through all their hoops and hurdles and perform their due diligence. We’re completely out of the loop until something gets approved, and then they’ve got to have discussions with us again.”