The City of Memphis will be replacing its two existing clear wells with new stainless steel units as part of the $3.5 million upgrades to the municipal water plant.

In an effort to expedite installation and avoid higher maintenance costs in the future, the Memphis City Council authorized a work order change on the $3.5 water system upgrades project to allow for the purchase of two new stainless steel clear wells.

At the October 3rd meeting, the council unanimously approved the roughly $78,000 change order to upgrade from the originally proposed welded steel clear wells.

“The main issue relates to the epoxy coating for the welded steel wells,” said Utilities Superintendent Stacey Alexander. “The plan called for demolishing one of the tanks this fall and replacing it. However it appears unlikely that the epoxy coating would be able to be installed until next spring, leaving us operating one just one clear well for several months.”

Phillip Wilson of McClure Engineering also noted that welded steel clear wells would ultimately require recoating, with an estimated cost of between $150,000 to $200,000.

The original cost estimate to replace the clear wells was approximately $500,000. Switching to stainless steel will bump that cost up to more than $575,000.

The council agreed to move forward with the proposed change contingent upon the warranty length for the stainless steel clear wells, noting as long as the new materials were guaranteed for a period of time that would extend beyond the coating lifetime, it would prove to be a cost savings long term.

The epoxy covering is installed on both the interior and exterior of the welded steel models.

“The clear wells are already in pretty bad shape, so we were not looking forward to a process that would have left us running on just one for several months,” said Alexander.