The Need For Speed: The TecTank Construction Method

Columbian TecTanks are cost-effective, durable epoxy tanks that have a wide variety of uses and are especially well-suited for small capacity tanks. TecTanks can last about 20 years in many applications thanks to recent advancements in materials and construction. TecTanks utilize thick steel, few penetration points and an optimized bolt pattern that provide exceptional performance along with expansion capabilities, if required.

Constructing A TecTank

Not only are Columbian TecTanks a solid choice for many applications, they are also relatively simple to construct, with as little disruption to business or municipal operations as possible. The entire process can be coordinated through Southeastern Tank, which will handle everything from design through post-erection testing.

Southeastern Tank utilizes a proprietary jacking method that limits the need for scaffolding, cranes and other heavy equipment and allows for a faster end-to-end process, with most projects completed in less than 12 weeks. You can see the process for yourself here:

The Final Product

Columbian TecTanks are some of the best factory-coated, bolted shop-welded tanks in the market and have been proven in applications ranging from potable water to fire protection and wastewater treatment and management. They utilize some of the most advanced storage coatings in the industry and provide strong chemical resistance, resulting in a high-quality, low-maintenance system.

With traditional welded tanks, there is a significant wait period to apply coatings if the weather delays the curing process. Factory coating eliminates weather as a factor, which speeds up construction and limits downtime and operational disruptions.

All Jacked Up: The Unique Aquastore Construction Method

Aquastore tanks are some of the most versatile, durable and long-lasting tanks in the market today. However, when liquid storage tanks need to be replaced or constructed from scratch, time is often one of the most important factors.

Downtime can lead to lost profits or the inability to meet obligations to customers. An additional benefit of Aquastore tanks is the speed with which they can be designed, constructed and integrated into an existing system.

How Aquastore Tanks Are Constructed

Aquastore tanks are constructed using a jacking method. In this system, the tank is built from the top down and the ground up. The bottom plates of the tank are completed first, but the top ring of the tank and the roof are actually the first pieces of the tank to be erected. The tank is then raised on jacks, with the next ring of the tank placed underneath the roof until the tank reaches its proper height. Finally, the lower shell is welded in place.

You can see the jack method in action here:

This jacking method virtually eliminates the use of scaffolding, which makes the process more efficient and reduces the construction footprint to ensure minimal disruption.

Not only is the construction process itself a breeze, but the planning and coordination process is much simpler than with other types of tanks because everything can be coordinated through Southeastern Tank. One team takes care of all of the administrative, mobilization and coordination required to ensure a smooth and efficient process.

The Final Result

Aquastore glass-fused-to-steel tanks are an ideal solution for most municipal water, industrial water, wastewater and industrial liquid solutions.

Over the last 30 years, Aquastore tanks have proven to provide the highest lifetime value in the market thanks to features like:

  • No repainting required for the life of the tank
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • No rust or corrosion
  • Performance warranties
  • Turnkey process from design through building and testing
  • Expansion capabilities

Glass-fused-to-steel solutions from Aquastore are some of the easiest tanks to install and to maintain, no matter the application.

Epoxy-Coated Vs. Glass-Fused-to-Steel: Which Tank Is Better?

Choosing a liquid storage tank should be easy, right? It’s a tank that holds liquid. How much difference could there really be? The truth is, there are pros and cons to all types of tanks, and the only way to choose the best product is to weigh those pros and cons against your needs. Let’s examine two of the most popular tanks, the epoxy-coated Columbian TecTank® and the glass-fused-to-steel Aquastore,® to determine which might be right for your application.

Columbian TecTank®: The Pros And Cons

The biggest advantage to choosing an epoxy TecTank® is budget. If you are limited in what you can spend or are willing to spend, these tanks are often the best choice and have a wide variety of applications. They are often ideal for small capacity tanks, as well, because they provide a significant cost advantage over other materials.

The biggest disadvantage to choosing TecTank® is longevity. In many applications, the tank will most likely need to be replaced in 20 years. For leachate tanks and wastewater tanks, the lifespan can be much shorter.

Some utilities and businesses have had poor experiences with TecTank® in the past. However, in more recent years, the technology has evolved to include thicker steel, fewer penetration points and an optimized bolt pattern designed to address some previous weaknesses and customer concerns. TecTanks® can also be expanded, if necessary, as storage capacity requirements change over the years. Though given their shorter lifespan, this option isn’t always the most cost-effective over the life of a tank.

Aquastore®: The Pros And Cons

Aquastore® glass-fused-to-steel (GFS) tanks have become extremely popular for their durability and long life. The fused coating is ideal for any application but they are particularly effective at holding aggressive liquids like wastewater and landfill leachate, because the coating withstands the chemical attacks that can damage and deteriorate other types of tanks. GFS tanks never need to be repainted, and regardless of what is stored inside, they can be cleaned with a power washer and require very little maintenance. Like TecTank®, Aquastore® tanks can also be expanded to meet changing needs over time.

The number one drawback of Aquastore® tanks is price. They can be significantly more expensive than epoxy tanks, and the upfront costs can be out of reach for many business and utilities. However, it is worth exploring the total cost of ownership over the life of the tank, as maintenance costs are much lower with a GFS and they do not need to be replaced as often.

Need Help with Your Tank Choice?

There is no universal “right” tank. Before looking into various tank options, assess your business’ needs, budget and compliance requirements. Tanks are always evolving, so it’s important to get the most up-to-date information—the more details you can gather, the better. Once these specifications are outlined, a reliable partner can help you choose the best materials and find a solution that works for your needs.

Smart Steps for Avoiding Steep EPA Fines

Today’s regulatory environment can be a jungle to navigate. The EPA, state and local regulations are always changing and keeping up with compliance can feel like running on a hamster wheel. But you’ve got to do it, or face steep fines and severe public backlash. Violating the Clean Water Act can lead to daily penalties ranging from $2,500 per day to $25,000 per day for a first offense. Repeat offenders, even if those offenses are unintentional, can face fines of $50,000 per day as well as confinement in federal prison. Here are some essential tips to help protect you and your profit margins.

Get To Know The EPA And Their Policies

The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970, nearly 11 months after President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act. According to the EPA website, the agency was developed “in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution…to consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection.”

In 1972 the Clean Water Act was established to, “restore and maintain our nation’s waters by preventing pollution, providing assistance to publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.” The EPA sets national environmental policy, including policy on water, and it is up to state and local governments to enforce those policies.

Side Step Infractions And Avoid Costly Consequences

Some penalties are small, but others can be crippling. In 2016, The Yuengling Brewing Company was accused of polluting Pennsylvania waterways and had to pay $3M in fines on top of making $8M in improvements to its wastewater pretreatment system. In 2015, Southern Coal was forced to pay $5M in fines plus improvements, and a sugar beet company in Minnesota had to pay $6M plus the costs of improvements.

It can be argued whether there was intent, negligence or failure to keep up with rapidly-changing regulations in any of these cases – or the hundreds of other cases lodged against US companies each year – but the fact of the matter is that it’s just good business to keep yourself on the right side of regulations at all times.

Stay Compliant Amidst Changing Rules And Regulations

Rules are typically established two to three years before they go into effect so that companies can make the necessary adjustments to ensure compliance. Nobody expects a plant to make improvements that can cost millions in only a few weeks’ time. That means that engineers and staff must always be looking ahead and getting ready for new rules coming down the pike, because the government provides (what they believe to be) ample time to rectify.

The partners you choose to work with when repairing water treatment systems and storage tanks as well as when it comes to building and maintaining them can make a world of difference in compliance practices. Proactive partners can keep you from spending money on features and processes that could put you out of compliance, and they can provide you with timely, gentle reminders of the aspects of your system that may need to be upgraded before new rules take effect.

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes To EPA Compliance

Not only do you have to know the rules, but you’ve got to know how your system is functioning at all times so that you can react quickly to potential issues. Annual inspections can save you a lot of money and bad press in the future. A proactive inspection can alert you to any potential issues, or future potential issues that could impact your compliance. These inspections are required by law, but it’s a good idea to work with a company that uses a proactive approach to create a plan for addressing future issues rather than just checking a completion box.

Repairing small issues when they arise, rather than putting them off can also help prepare for long-term compliance. Large mechanical or structural problems can lead to major issues that throw off the balance of the system, and fixing those issues can involve lengthy exercises in trial and error.

The EPA isn’t going anywhere so don’t try to resist. A little education in combination with a proactive approach is the most effective way to stay compliant—thus, protecting your profits and your standing in the community in which you conduct business.

5 Questions You Should Ask Potential Water Storage Tank Vendors

Water storage tank companies often make the same claims about service, price, and results. Weighing one vendor against another can be a tedious process, but the wrong choice could lead to spending more than you wanted, using materials that don’t last, or just feeling wholly unsatisfied with the results. Here are five critical questions you should ask any potential water storage tank vendor before signing on the dotted line.

1. How Long Have You Been In This Business?

Experience and past success is the best indicator of future success. A company that is just getting started may be a market leader in 15 years, but what matters to you is finding the best company today. Choose a vendor that has been in the water storage tank business for at least 10 years. If a group has made it a decade in the water storage tank industry, it’s a good sign they are doing something right.

2. How Many Similar Projects Have You Completed?

Years of experience are important, but those years should ideally have been spent working on projects of similar size, scope and function to your own. You don’t want to be a company’s first foray into a certain project type.

Make sure that any relevant installations were completed under their own business name. Sometimes businesses are tempted to cite their suppliers’ histories or their partners’ experience in an attempt to appear like an expert when their own portfolio is a little thin.

A good rule of thumb to evaluate a tank vendor’s work history and installation history is to look for a successful track record of at least 10 years with a minimum of 100 installations per year. Frequency does matter. Think of it as a baseball stat. You can’t attribute a hitter as having an .800 average if he’s only had five at-bats in his career. Look at the full historical picture as you make you evaluation.

3. What is Your Bond Capacity

You can infer a lot about a potential contractor based on bond capacity. The amount that a company can be bonded for shows that they have the financial capacity to ensure their performance as a contractor. Bond requirements vary by state, but there are several factors that determine bond capacity, including:

  • Working capital of the contractor
  • Net worth of the contractor
  • Available lines of credit
  • Personal credit scores of company principals
  • History of successful completion of projects similar in size and scope to current bonded project
  • References
  • Work on hand

Bond capacity is similar to a credit limit. A strong bond capacity offers reassurance knowing it will be there if/when they need it because they have a long history of success and financial solvency.

It is important to know a contractor’s bond capacity for another reason: licensure. To get bonded, a company must be licensed in the state they are doing business. A bond is a guarantee that the contractor knows and will follow the rules of the license.

Some contractors bid work outside their home-base state and wait to apply for a license and bond until after they land a job. Bid law states that you must have the license before submitting a proposal, so you want to be careful that you are hiring someone on the right side of the law. If you want to protect your investment, look for the bond and license upfront.

4. Can You Show Me Proof?

The answers to the questions above won’t tell the whole story. Clients are well within their rights to ask for “proof” of the claims that contractors make in their bids.

First and foremost, ask for references. Those references should preferably be from companies with jobs like your own. You can also ask for other types of financial proof that indicates solvency like proof of revenue in the form of a tax return. Avoid contractors that refuse to have these discussions or provide you with the details you need.

5. Can You Do Your Own Concrete Work?

Last, but certainly not least, ask potential tank contractors whether or not they do their own concrete work. Why? This line item can drive up your bid and slow down your timeline if they must use a subcontractor or if they require you to hire the concrete team yourself. It may seem like a small detail, but it can make a huge difference in your project.

When you take the time to evaluate tank contractors in advance, and when you consider more than just price, you increase the chances of a successful project that meets your expectations. Make sure to ask these questions – and any others you feel are important – before you sign with any potential water storage tank vendor.

How Tank Management Funds Have Improved On Maintenance Contracts

Maintenance. It’s nobody’s favorite subject, but it’s critical to keep the tank functioning optimally. The tank maintenance industry is relatively new – but already the industry has experienced some drastic ups and downs. This article explores the history of tank maintenance contracts – and delves into the advantages of tank management funds, which can be a great solution for tank owners who are unhappy with their current maintenance agreements.

A Brief Look Back: The Birth of Tank Maintenance Contracts

Tank maintenance contracts are fairly new to the industry – they really only started to appear in the 1980s; and at the time, they were a godsend.

Before them, two large problems plagued the tank industry: bad financial management and failing infrastructure. Paying for potable water and wastewater tank maintenance were difficult to prioritize in resource allocation, particularly for small utilities where budgets were tight. Many of these utilities operated on wire-thin margins. They existed for the public good, and simply couldn’t raise rates or gain new customers. This cycle of non-profitability created scenarios where, with too much debt on their hands, the utilities couldn’t borrow any more money to maintain their tanks – which meant many were brought to the point of failure. In some extreme examples, communities would wait for its tank to collapse so that they could then could apply for emergency government funding.

But in the mid-80s, a method was introduced that allowed small utilities to finance their tank maintenance, spreading out the cost over a 10-year period and paying in installments. This solution revolutionized the industry because the utilities could still have their tanks maintained, without taking on new debt. This was the birth of the maintenance contract industry.

Increase in Competition, Decrease in Quality

As it so often happens with many great new ideas, the maintenance contract market quickly became saturated causing competition to rise, prices to plummet, and the quality to spiral downward. Low prices were great for utilities but bad for the companies selling the plans – they didn’t factor in the rise in the cost of living, the cost of materials, etc. It didn’t take long for contract providers to realize that they weren’t taking in enough money to turn a profit on the work.

To address this lack of profit, some maintenance companies began designing contracts that benefited them, the provider, not the tank owner. The language was written in a way that allowed the service company to determine whether the tanks got painted and maintained. Sometimes, those companies collected the money but never provided the agreed-upon work, especially as tanks began to age.

Tank Management Funds: Your Money, Your Control

The industry found itself at a crossroads and this led to the development of tank management funds. Rather than paying a yearly installment for contract maintenance, utilities can put that money into a fund that they manage; they remain in charge of their own finances. An assigned third-party asset manager oversees how and when that money is spent on maintaining and repairing the tank. That asset manager solicits bids, vets potential contractors and ensures that the work is completed by trustworthy companies for a fair price in a reasonable timeframe. The asset manager forecasts future costs so tank owners can plan ahead. Now, tank owners can invest their own money, are guaranteed maintenance at a fair price, and turn to their asset manager with one phone call when a need arises.

With tank management funds, the benefits to utilities are simple. The company stays in charge of its finances, reduces debt loads, enables them to pay only for the service they need and receive. Plus, they can manage costs by calling for bids, rather than putting their trust in one company to handle the work. Tank management funds ensure the right work gets done, at the right time and for the right price.

Eight Simple Tips For Better Water Storage Tank Design

Water storage tank design isn’t the most glamorous work for an engineer, but it is extremely serious business. When tasked with this type of project, it’s easy to overlook some important steps and aspects of the design, especially when you find yourself pulled in different directions by business or government leaders with divergent ideas and priorities. Here are eight simple tips to help you manage your next water storage tank design project.

  1. Know The Pros and Cons of Reservoir Vs. Standpipe

    Budget can often be the biggest factor that determines the direction of any liquid storage tank project. Often, the first decision is whether to choose a reservoir system or a standpipe. There are a number of factors that determine a final price, but ground storage is typically the most cost-effective path to choose. However, the height of the tank can be impacted by factors like pressure requirements, the height of neighboring tanks and the space constraints of the property on which you are placing that tank, and there are times when standpipes are unavoidable. Be sure to research the versatility of ground storage tanks and pumping stations before resorting to an expensive elevated tank.

  2. Don’t Disregard Drains

    With so many other things going on with the tank, it’s easy to ignore the importance of drains. A single inlet/outlet pipe might seem convenient, but it can lead to big trouble down the line. With older tanks or tanks without drainage pipes, the water goes in and out the same way. If the water in that tank goes bad, there is no way of getting it out without sending it back through the system. Ideally, you want a pipe that goes in, a pipe that goes out, and a third for drainage, even if that drain simply dumps on the ground.

  3. Install A Mixing System Up Front

    Water quality management is essential for EPA and local water treatment compliance, and you want to be mixing your tank 24/7/365. Any time you design a new tank, be sure to include a mixing system. It does not add much to the total cost of the tank if installed upfront, and it can make a world of difference in treatment costs.

  4. Allow Room To Grow

    If your business or utility plans to grow within the next 20 years, you want to design a tank that has room to grow with you. Planning for tomorrow today ensures a smooth transition when needs change. Modular tank construction offers flexibility, allowing to expand your existing tank, rather than building a second later on. Adding on is always more cost-effective than building a second tank from scratch.

  5. Abandon The Desire For Perfect Symmetry

    Engineers like clean lines and symmetry. It just comes with the territory. However, dropping a tank in the middle of a plot of land can spell trouble later. Any time you install a tank on a piece of property, avoid the urge to put that tank in the dead center of the plot. Sure, it makes for aesthetically pleasing proportions, but what happens when you need to expand or add another tank? You have to scramble to purchase more property. Instead, install new tanks to the far left or right of the plot, so there is room to grow without buying additional land.

  6. Consider Tank Lifecycle Costs

    Consider this: Anything coated with paint will have to be painted again. Painting and repainting a tank can be cost-effective in the moment, but you have to consider the long-term costs associated with continual rehab. Elevated tanks and epoxy ground tanks can be the most difficult to maintain over time, adding to the total cost of that tank over the course of its life; while glass tanks are becoming more popular for their durability, versatility and low lifecycle cost.

  7. Remember That Design Impacts Dollars

    The design of the tank can impact the total cost in big ways. For example, keeping a tank under 40 feet tall typically provides the most value, especially if you can keep the tank close to a 1:1 diameter to height ratio. The taller you go, the more expensive the tank.

  8. Know Your Soil

    Even if you have a great location, you’ve got plenty of space, and your budget is in line, the soil bearing capacity of a plot of land can rain on your parade if it’s less than 3,000 psf. When purchasing property for tanks, always conduct thorough sampling and testing to be sure that the land can handle the tank. If the soil does happen to be less than 3,000 psf, you can still build a tank, but know that the costs will likely be significantly higher.

Water storage tank projects involve a lot of moving parts, and often, a lot of strong opinions from the people around you. When you consider all of the elements of water storage tank design that impact the final cost, you’ll be better prepared to defend your choices and your budget to the powers that be.