Flooding earlier in the year caused plenty of damage to city property, including several fuel tanks used by multiple divisions.
The three underground tanks at City Yards have been repaired, but after the March floods city vehicles were forced to fuel either at the bus depot or local gas stations, depending on where they could fit.
Assistant Director of Public Works Brady McKinley said large fire trucks had to refuel at local gas stations, which he said was sometimes a difficult task.
In order to avoid long periods of having the pumps turned off, the current tanks will be replaced by above-ground units after St. Joseph City Council approval last week.
The pumps at City Yards, located on the city’s South Side, are used by many vehicles, including those from the streets division, sewer division, police department and fire department.
While the pumps themselves were not damaged during the floods, the underground tanks often need repairs after floodwaters reach the site.
Superintendent of Streets and Infrastructure Keven Schneider said expensive preparations are needed any time a flood is expected in the area.
“When we have a flood, you have to pump the fuel out, then you have to fill them with water so they don’t float,” Schneider said. “That’s a big pain in the rear. It costs money.”
The process means that, even if it doesn’t flood, vehicles cannot use the pumps. It also means the tanks have to be professionally drained and cleaned in order to avoid having any water inside when they are refilled with fuel.
The $84,000 replacement tanks will hold the same amount of diesel and unleaded fuel, but could save the city money in the long run.
“It’s really going to be a cost savings in the long run for the city,” Schneider said. “there’s a lot less maintenance on above-ground storage than there are on the in-ground fuel tanks.”
The current underground tanks were estimated to cost between $57,000 and $61,000 by the end of next year for additional repairs, maintenance and required testing and recertification for such types of tanks.
The new tanks will be kept above the flood line and will require only the turn of a valve in the event that water is coming into City Yards.
“We’ll be able to keep fueling everybody down here that needs to be fueled up until the time the water gets up,” Schneider said. “Then, as soon as the water recedes, we’d open the valves and turn the pumps back on and we’re ready to go.”
The new tanks are expected to be installed before the end of this year.