SOUTH GATE : New Reservoir Nearly Set to Begin Operation

Though the water from the tap may look the same, within a month residents will be drinking from the city's new 4-million-gallon reservoir.

City officials celebrated the completion of the $5.4-million project at a grand opening last week.

"In this city's history, this is a very unique and advanced project and we are very proud of it," said project manager Shafique Naiyer.

The reservoir, which is 30 feet deep and measures 140 feet by 260 feet--enough to hold about one day's supply of water--is buried under a 140-space parking lot in South Gate Park. The reinforced-concrete structure will treat and store water from four wells that were closed in 1985 because of contamination from PCE, or perchloroethylene, a solvent used to remove grease and dirt from metal.

The reservoir will use a built-in spray aeration process to remove PCE gases by churning them out of the water and funneling them through an overflow pipe and into the air, Naiyer said.

Exposure to high levels of PCE vapors can cause problems ranging from eye irritation to breathing difficulties and lightheadedness. The Air Quality Management District approved the process and will not require the city to test for vapors, said Department of Public Works Director Jim Biery.

The water will be tested for PCE levels every two weeks and the wells will be tested every three months, city officials said. Reopening the wells, which are in South Gate Park, will help the city reduce water purchases from the Metropolitan Water District, Naiyer said. The city reservoir can supply water for about $250 per acre-foot compared to the $479 per acre-foot the city pays for water from the district, Naiyer said.

After officials finish testing equipment, the reservoir will be dried, disinfected and filled for public use.

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