Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Compton Hill Reservoir near `End of Useful Life' Meeting Called to Hear about Options, All Costly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Compton Hill Reservoir near `End of Useful Life' Meeting Called to Hear about Options, All Costly

Article excerpt

St. Louis' 128-year-old reservoir at Compton Hill is crumbling, and city officials are trying to decide whether to shut it down, repair it or replace it.

It's a daunting project. The concrete vault has the volume of 10 Climatrons.

When full, it holds 86 million gallons. The Mississippi River at the crest of the Flood of '93 would have filled it in 11 seconds. Niagara Falls would take 54 seconds, at its average flow.

The reservoir - a landmark at Interstate 44 and South Grand Boulevard - suffers from a host of structural ills. The problems have led engineers to conclude that the reservoir "is near the end of its useful life," says David A. Visintainer, director of public utilities.

Two weeks ago, the city began studying alternatives. The work is likely to cost many millions of dollars and take one or two full construction seasons, depending on the options the city chooses.

City officials will spend up to 15 months studying those options. The preparation will include public meetings to hear neighborhood preferences for construction and design.

The first meeting will be from 7 to 10 p.m. on March 23 at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, 3854 Flad Avenue.

The study will include the fate of the Compton Hill Water Tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The rocket-shaped tower is badly cracked on its eastern side and has exposed, crumbling asbestos inside.

The reservoir is 830 feet long, 502 feet wide and has a maximum depth of 34.5 feet.

The city normally just skims water off its top. About 45 million gallons at the lower depths are just taking up space. Visintainer said the city couldn't dip into the lower water without experiencing "severe pressure problems."

The original reservoir was excavated in 1867. The site was chosen because it is one of the highest elevations in the city.

The 179-foot tower was built in 1898 to add pressure to the system and to relieve pipe rattling. Its ornate French-Romanesque styling is the work of architect George Mason, who designed City Hall.

It is one of seven remaining standpipe water towers in the country, three of which are in St. …

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