Orem neeew 10 million gallon water tank. . . .now

One of the water tanks providing drinking water storage for the City of Orem. The new proposed tank would be underground. Jan. 13, 2021.

After several attempts to find the best location for a water storage tank in central Orem, city officials have announced an agreement on land has been made.

The city has finalized a purchase agreement with Arlen Farley, the landowner of property at the corner of 400 South 400 West, for the construction of a new 10-million-gallon water tank. The city will finalize and close on the deal by the end of the month.

“The site is critical to meeting the city’s outstanding water storage concerns and will boost water pressures and will accommodate growing water needs into the future,” said Jamie Davidson, Orem city manager. “The new tank will also serve as an important resource located away from most of the city’s storage tanks on the hillsides of northeast Orem, thereby providing the city with an alternative site to serve its customers.”

For several months, Orem city leaders have been trying to figure out where they are going to put a 10-million-gallon water tank. Several locations, most not ideally suited for the project, were discussed. It appeared in early spring that additional options had run dry and the only place the tank could go was at Community Park in central Orem.

As far back as Feb. 22, the city met with residents in the neighborhood to discuss the proposed tank that would be submerged below ground in the park. Residents were very concerned and vocal about the park being torn up, particularly the potential loss of full-grown shade trees to cool the area.

This was not the first time this topic had been on the table.

Discussion surrounding the need for the multi-million dollar project started approximately 15 years ago. Now, by law, there must be a new tank to give Orem the water storage necessary for any water emergency.

According to city professionals, the tank should be located as close as possible to 400 South — between 400 and 600 West — for best use and cost effectiveness.

A portion of Community Park had been identified by city officials as the least expensive location since it is already owned by the city. It is close to 400 South where the water is gravity fed westward.

The park property was not the most desired property. That property is at 400 South and 400 West on the southwest corner, which is owned by Farley.

In the past few years, city officials have approached the Farleys, as recently as the beginning of this year, and have been rebuffed when it comes to purchasing property.

With the water tank appearing to be certain at the park, neighbors approached the Farleys, and it appeared the city had another opportunity to negotiate.

“There are enough advantages to the Farley property, to offset building in the park,” said Neal Winterton, Water Division manager. “It will cost equal or less due to proximity and not in the middle of the park.”

The city is purchasing 4.2 acres of the Farley property, leaving the Farleys with 1.5 acres of land. The city will have first right of refusal in the future if the remaining property goes up for sale.

The cost of the project is estimated to be between $18 million and $20 million, which includes the submerged 10-million-gallon tank, a booster station and a well. There are other pipes and lines that will have to be laid in the area as well.

Winterton said the project will take about two years to complete and the city is hoping to start digging this summer while school is out.

Orem Elementary School is a block or so west of the construction site.

It is not known yet what the city will do with the property after the construction phase is completed. Officials are evaluating the options, which could include a leisure park with benches etc., or a conservation garden, according to Winterton.

“Ultimately the city council working with the public and city staff will come up with the final decision,” Winterton said.

Winterton suggested something like the area around the Sego Lily Gardens around a tank in Sandy might be a great and aesthetic addition to the area.

Sego Lily Gardens is an educational garden designed for the public to observe and learn how to use water conservation principles and practices to create a beautiful and water-wise landscape, according to the Sandy city website.

The garden is one of the first demonstration gardens along the Wasatch Front to emphasize low-water-use plants and landscaping. At the gardens, there are a large variety of drought-tolerant plants, including: grasses, groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines.

These plants are used in various ways to show different examples of low-water-use landscapes. Plants native to Utah are used at Sego Lily Gardens so the public can learn more about plants that are already adapted to the local environment.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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