Hickory Hills water tower

The existing water tower behind the Hickory Hills shopping center holds 500,000 gallons of water and stands 125 feet tall.

Contracts were awarded last week to two firms to start work on water and sewer projects in California and Piney Point.

The St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission last Thursday awarded a $6.47 million contract to CBI LLC to replace the water tower behind the Hickory Hills shopping center in California.

The construction will expand the capacity of the current tower from 500,000 gallons to 2 million gallons, to serve the Lexington Park water system. The tower will be a composite steel bowl atop a concrete base and will be built next to the current tower, which stands at 125 feet. The old tower will come down when the new one, which will be around 147 feet high, is completed.

“It’s four times as big, so it’s going to be pretty significant,” Christy Hollander, chief MetCom engineer, said about the replacement, which ran into years of delays due to land ownership issues.

The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission approved the new tower in 2012, and land acquisition finished in April 2018, according to a MetCom memo. The current tower was built in 1992.

Along with the replacement, the contract will build a 700-gallon permanent well, replacing an abandoned well at the site. Homeowners hooked up to the tower who have reportedly complained about their water pressure may see higher water pressure once the tower is connected.

“It may go up a little, but it shouldn’t change drastically,” Hollander said.

The new tower is expected to take two years to complete, and “the old tower will stay in use until the new one is put online, so there won’t be any [interruption of] service” during turnover, Hollander said.

To mitigate repeated failures at the Piney Point Road sewer line, MetCom also awarded a bid for $181,000 to engineering consultant RK&K to design a remediation and cost estimation to fix the pipeline, which runs almost 10 miles from the Piney Point Wastewater Pumping Station to a manhole on Great Mills Road, and connects to several commercial and residential sewer grinder pump systems.

The sewer line, built in the 1980s, has experienced several failures since 2008, “resulting in large sanitary sewer overflows, costly repairs and environmental restorations,” Hollander said in a memo. After investigations by several agencies, poor soil conditions were confirmed to be corrosive to the 8-inch iron force main, leading to failures and sanitary sewer overflows.

“We don’t know if it’s along the whole force main, or if it’s just in areas, hopefully that’s the case,” Hollander said.

A portion of the line in Valley Lee, where failures were initially occurring, was replaced in 2016. Since then, three other failures occurred closer to Piney Point, according to a memo.

RK&K indicated the study could be complete in 46 days.

“We’re doing it in a phased approach, we’re gonna look at that entire 10 miles of pipe, the soils along that line,” Hollander said. “That kind of gives us a … diagram to show where our replacements need to be for the next [capital] projects. It’s really just an analysis to get us a good idea of where we need to start replacing.”

Twitter: @TaylorEntNews

Twitter: @TaylorEntNews