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The Board of Commissioners presented its plans to the public to replace the elevated storage tank, located on a 3-acre site in Munsey Park, which was constructed in 1929 and is now at the end of its useful life. The elevated storage tank is essential, District-wide, for a reliable water supply during power outages, to provide system wide pressure control, and to provide firefighters with instantaneous water supply to protect people and property throughout the District. These are the questions and answers that were addressed at the April 8th meeting.

Questions Posed at April 8, 2014 Public Meeting, and Answers

1. Is the Water District still considering ground level water storage as a possible solution to its stated need to replace the elevated water storage tank at the Munsey Park site?

Response: While the District has not made a final decision, after carefully reviewing all feasible alternatives for an extended period of time, the District expects to approve elevated storage to replace the existing elevated storage. The District’s potable water system is comprised of wells, treatment plants, ground storage tanks, booster pump stations, miles of water mains, and elevated storage tanks. Each of these different assets is critical to our ability to supply potable water and water for fire needs on a daily basis and during emergency conditions. Water District Superintendent Paul Schrader, a licensed engineer, and our consulting engineers, H2M, experts in water system infrastructure, strongly support replacement of the existing elevated storage tank with a new elevated storage tank because it provides benefits to our water delivery ability that ground storage does not. See the H2M report for additional detail.

2. Are there any positive aspects to ground storage?

Response: Ground storage is a useful and important part of the Water District’s existing system. It works in conjunction with the other assets, including the elevated water storage. A small number of people who spoke at the April 8, 2014 public meeting suggested that they would prefer the aesthetics of ground storage over the elevated storage at the Munsey Park site. We recognize that aesthetics can be a subjective matter. Because regulations prohibit below-grade storage, ground storage would be at ground level. In order to contain 750,000 gallons, a significantly sized, two-story building would need to be constructed to contain the water. In addition, a separate building containing pumping equipment and generators would be required. The abutting neighbors would see those buildings at ground level from their rear yards and from the windows of their homes. Some of those neighbors who spoke at the meeting expressed a preference for ground storage on aesthetic grounds. Ground storage certainly is an effective means by which potable water can be stored within the District – the District now maintains, and will continue to maintain, ground storage. However, the District infrastructure, which benefits the entire District, would suffer from the loss of certain attributes that are available from elevated storage but not ground storage. Those attributes, which are more clearly explained in the H2M report, include (i) instantaneous emergency water supply for firefighting and main breaks, available without the need for pumps to be turned on and off because supply is gravity-powered; (ii) system-wide pressure stabilization and relief from surges that can result when pumps are turned on and off; (iii) operational flexibility and efficiency; and (iv); reduced energy costs. The District’s final decision will weigh whatever aesthetic benefits might be perceived by property owners in close proximity to the structure against the benefits to the entire District by preserving the open water supply system with the benefits described, that are available only through elevated storage.

3. Has the District considered alternatives to tank replacement?

Response: The District has considered but rejected the possibility of repairing and rehabilitating the existing tank, which has reached the end of its useful life, and will require increasingly frequent and more expensive repairs to maintain safety, none of which will prevent the inevitable need in the foreseeable future to replace the tank.

4. Has the District considered alternate sites for the replacement storage?

Response: The value of elevated water storage is a function of elevation. Location of the elevated water storage tank is dictated by ground elevation in relation to mean sea level. The Munsey Park site, which is at a high elevation relative to surrounding area, is an optimum location for elevated water storage. By way of comparison, an elevated water storage tank, if constructed on East Shore Road, Manhasset, would have to be 332 feet high in order to have the same beneficial effects as the existing 160 foot tank in Munsey Park. Moreover, the Munsey Park site has housed elevated water storage for over 80 years. Not only does that mean that the site is known to all as a site with an elevated water storage tank, but it also means that the District water main infrastructure feeding the tank has been installed and maintained in its current locations to tie into the existing site. The costs to locate an alternative site, to acquire an alternative site, to engage in environmental analysis for a new water storage tank (a much different proposition than is needed to replace an existing elevated tank), and to construct new water main infrastructure to accommodate a new site, makes pursuit of an alternate location not feasible or practical.

5. Will the elevated tank provide benefits only to the immediate community surrounding the site, or will the benefits extend throughout the District?

Response: The benefits of the elevated storage will benefit the entire District water supply system, not only the residents and the community surrounding the site.

6. Does the project comply with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), and has the District prepared an environmental assessment form?

Response: Replacement of an existing elevated water storage tank with a new elevated water storage tank is exempt from SEQRA because it is categorized by that law and applicable regulations as a “Type II” action, which by definition will not significantly adversely impact the environmental. It qualifies as exempt because it is the replacement of a structure or facility in kind on the same site. Even though the project is exempt from analysis under SEQRA, the District Board determined to have its consulting engineers, H2M, prepare a long environmental assessment form (“LEAF”), a step not required for Type II actions, but one that the Board thought would be helpful to provide both the Board, its staff, its consultants, and the public as much information as possible. The LEAF is available on our website. It confirms the absence of any significant adverse impact upon the environment for purposes of SEQRA.

7. How do the projected capital costs, and operation and maintenance costs associated with the proposed elevated water storage tank compare with those for a ground storage facility?

Response: An elevated water storage tank will need to be painted approximately every 15 years. A Ground storage tank and booster station also involves operation and maintenance costs that are not shared by an elevated water storage tank. A summary comparison:

Elevated Water Storage Tank Ground Water Storage Tank
Capital Cost for 750,000 gallon elevated tank – $3,200,000 Capital Cost for 750,000 gallon ground storage tank – $4,070,000
Present value of 30 years of operation and maintenance costs – $1,382,973 Present value of 30 years of operation and maintenance costs – $1,804,634
Total cost for elevated tank – $4,582,973 Total cost for ground storage tank – $5,874,634
 For a more detailed comparison, click here.

8. Is the project subject to local building and zoning rules?

Response: The Water District’s storage tank project is exempt from local building and zoning regulations. However, the project must be approved by the Nassau County Department of Health, both before the project begins, and also before the completed project is entered into service. The tank and footings will be designed by licensed professional engineers, in accordance with current New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code requirements, and all construction will be performed by experienced and qualified contractors who will be selected through the competitive bidding process required by law.

9. How will the Board determine whether soil at the site has the capacity to support the contemplated structure?

Response: The District has engaged a licensed professional geotechnical engineer to analyze and report to the District on the capacity of the soil at the site to support the contemplated structure. The geo-technical engineer’s report will include the analysis of soil borings. The District retained a firm to obtain those soil borings just last month. While we do not yet have a final report from the geo-technical engineers, the soil borings reflect sand and gravel to a depth of 100 feet. We have been advised that the soil type is ideal for the structure proposed. The results of the geo-technical engineer’s report will be utilized by the engineers to design the foundation for the structure.

10. Are there any applicable laws or regulations that restrict the proximity of an elevated water storage tank to nearby homes?

Response: There are no laws, rules or regulations that prohibit construction of the tank in this location or in the contemplated proximity to existing residential homes surrounding the site.

11. Does the Water District sell water to other water suppliers?

Response: The Water District has a water supply agreement with the Village of Plandome under which the Water District supplies water to that Village. The District has been supplying water to that Village under agreement for over 20 years, in amounts and at times that have been consistent throughout that period. We contemplate providing water in a similar manner to the Village going forward. The District has no additional plans to supply water to any other neighboring water suppliers. However, the District does maintain emergency interconnections, in accordance with Nassau County Department of Health Regulations, with other abutting public water suppliers. The District does not supply water to other suppliers, even on an emergency basis, if doing so jeopardizes the safety of the District’s system available to its residents.

12. How and when will the Water District make its final determination with respect to the project?

Response: The Board of Commissioners of the Water District will adopt a resolution at an up-coming meeting to solicit bids pursuant to the competitive bidding laws of the State of New York for the project that it deems to be in the best interests of all District residents. It will direct its engineer to prepare the specifications and contract documents for the project selected. Based upon all information received to date, the District expects that decision to be the elevated water storage replacement.
After the District receives and analyzes all bids, the Board will adopt a resolution awarding the project to a qualified bidder, provided that the Board determines that all elements of the bid are in the best interests of the District. After the bid is awarded, the successful bidder will submit requisite bonds and insurance, execute the contract, and be given a starting date for the project.

13. What is the contemplated time for project completion?

Response: The Water District expects the project to be completed within 18 months after the award of the contract.


An elevated water storage tank has the following advantages over a ground storage tank and booster pump station.

· Instantaneous Emergency Water supply for Fire Fighting and Main Breaks
· System Wide Pressure Stabilization and Surge Relief
· Increased Operational Flexibility & Efficiency
· Gravity Powered Emergency Supply
· Decreased Power Costs

Floating storage provides clear advantages to the operation of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District’s System, which are simply not available with ground storage. The District has recognized the inherent importance of the Munsey Park Elevated Tank as a critical piece of our water system’s infrastructure and has therefore resolved that it must be replaced.

Rendering of Proposed Tank next to the Existing Tank

MLWD Superintendent’s Open Letter Regarding
Munsey Park Elevated Water Storage Tank Replacement
I am Superintendent of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, a licensed professional engineer, and New York State Department of Health certified water treatment plant operator. I am in responsible charge of the Water District’s day-to-day operations that provide safe, reliable potable water service to all Water District residents, which is crucial to the health and safety of the communities we serve.

The District covers portions of the Town of North Hempstead along with all or portions of the following Villages: Plandome Manor, Plandome Heights, Flower Hill, Munsey Park, North Hills, New Hyde Park, Lake Success, Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens, and Thomaston. We also provide water by contract to the Village of Plandome.

Water: we drink it, bathe in it, flush the toilet with it, maintain our landscapes, fight fires. Humanity depends upon it, but most people take it for granted. You open the faucet and water appears, every time, all you want, for less than a penny per gallon. This does not happen through magic. It happens because of sound planning and engineering. The coordinated operation of all of our system components enables your Water District to provide reliable uninterrupted water supply.

Our water system is comprised of wells, treatment plants, ground storage tanks, elevated storage tanks, transmission water mains, and distribution water mains. Our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network provides 24 hour remote monitoring of the water system.

Over the past twenty years, the District has developed, implemented and updated an ongoing capital improvement program for your supply system. This work has included new wells, elevated tank maintenance, rehabilitating pumping stations, hydrant replacements, and miles of water main replacements and extensions. This year our improvement program includes the replacement of our elevated storage tank located in Munsey Park.

Our elevated storage tanks are critical to our ability to provide water service. Have you ever lost electric power? What about cable TV or phone service? Now, try to recall the last time you lost your water service. Through winter storms, through Hurricane Sandy, through the great black-out of August 2003, your water service was uninterrupted. Imagine not being able to flush your toilet for ten days during Sandy!

What makes our system withstand power outages is our elevated storage tanks. When power is lost, our pumps turn off. But the water in the elevated tanks then falls by gravity into the distribution system to supply water, while we work to bring our back-up power supplies on line, until regular power is finally restored.

The elevated tanks are also critical for fire protection and for sanitary concerns. When there is a fire or a main break, large quantities of water must be available instantaneously. If the elevated tanks were not available, the pressure drop during a main break or fire fighting could be so dramatic that negative pressure could develop in the water mains, which could suck tainted water into the distribution system and threaten the safety of our supply.

Elevated storage also regulates pressure throughout the entire distribution system. The water levels in our elevated tanks rise and fall with system demand. During peak demand when so many sprinklers are on, water from the elevated tanks falls into the system. As the sprinklers turn off, the water rises back into the tank. During this cycle our large pumps turn on to meet the demand and then off as the demand eases. The tanks cushion the effects of the pumps coming on and off, preventing large pressure fluctuations.

None of those benefits of elevated storage can be replicated as effectively with ground storage and booster pumps. Replacing elevated storage with booster pumps/ground storage will result in additional power costs for double pumping water, once into the tank and once out. The water supplied by the pumps will not be instantaneous. There are multiple points of failure in a booster station: pumps break, electrical and computer controls, power supply, backup power supply. And once again, booster pumps cannot provide the equivalent operational storage and pressure control function.

There are approximately a dozen homes that abut our Munsey Park elevated tank site. Since 1929, that site has housed the elevated tank. Understandably, those neighbors would love to see the existing tank come down and not be replaced. Some have suggested converting the site to ground storage.

We understand that elimination of the tank would provide obvious aesthetic improvement for those neighbors. However, we doubt that they would actually be happy with replacement with ground storage, which would likely be more intrusive for those neighbors than a replacement elevated tank. Ground storage would mean that storage now above the tree tops would be on the ground (Health Department regulations prohibit underground storage structures), and industrial-looking buildings and increased noise from pumps and generators would be right next door to those homes.

But, considering what ground storage might look like is misleading and an academic exercise. Eliminating elevated storage, or replacing it with ground storage, is simply not feasible. The Water District Board of Commissioners, who you’ve elected to run the District, and your Superintendent, along with our consulting engineers, cannot neglect our duty to do the right thing for the District. We cannot in good conscience accept an inferior design that denies all forty three thousand District inhabitants the benefits of elevated storage that I’ve described, to address the aesthetic concerns of a few of our residents.

Engineers have recognized the central of gravity for water systems for centuries. Gravity was integral to the two greatest water systems ever contemplated by man, the Roman Empire’s and New York City’s aqueduct systems. Our elevated storage provides foolproof instantaneous emergency and operational storage through the use of gravity, without any power or operational costs. While technological advances in many areas have radically changed our lives for the better, we have yet to improve upon gravity in the context of water supply. The community is now weighing the benefits of elevated storage against its visual impact. I say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

To learn more about this project, read:
Project Summary

Project FAQ

Engineering Report

For questions or concerns regarding the Munsey Tank Replacement Project, please email our superintendent paul@mlwaterd.org.

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