Rehabilitation of a 130 Year Old Tank, Newton, MA 

About the System

The water distribution system in the City of Newton, MA (City) serves approximately 90,000 people and includes 319 miles of water main ranging from 2-inches up to 30-inches. There is a southern pressure zone, a northern pressure zone, and three additional high service areas. All water is supplied by Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the system utilizes two tanks, the Waban Hill Reservoir and the Oak Hill Tank. 

Installation of the 24-inch cast iron piping in 1890

The Waban Hill Reservoir (Reservoir) is located in the Chestnut Hill area of Newton and serves the southern pressure zone.  The Commonwealth Avenue Pump Station, operated by the MWRA, serves Newton’s southern pressure zone and fills the Reservoir. The Reservoir has a capacity of approximately 10 million gallons (MG) with four chambers that were built in stages: Chamber 1 was constructed in 1891, Chamber 2 in 1901, and Chambers 3 and 4 in 1917.  Each chamber is approximately 2.5 MG.  At the center of the reservoir is a gate chamber building that houses the influent and effluent valves and piping to each of the chambers as well as the 90-inch diameter central core standpipe.

Figure 1

As shown in Figure 1, there is a 24-inch diameter common inlet/outlet line that fills the interior standpipe and then overflows equally into all four chambers. When drawing, the 24-inch diameter check valve opens and draws through the effluent lines and out the common inlet/outlet. An additional 24-inch diameter inlet/outlet pipe is located in the corner of Chamber 2 that operates Chamber 2 only if needed. During construction, Chamber 2 was used to feed the system through the secondary inlet/outlet pipe while work was completed on the effluent valves for all chambers.  During construction, the effluent pipe from Chamber 2 to the core was plugged so that work could be performed on the piping and valve while keeping Chamber 2 in service.

All chambers have a drain line and valve that manifold into a 24-inch diameter drain line that runs under the existing common inlet/outlet pipe. The bottom of the interior standpipe as well as the standpipe overflow both drain into the 24-inch drain line. 


The original scope of the repair project included rehabilitating the 90-inch diameter standpipe, replacing four 24-inch effluent valves, and replacing the asphalt shingle roof. 

Figure 2

Prior to construction, it was important to review the impacts of removing Chambers 1, 3, and 4 from service on the distribution system.  The existing hydraulic model for the City was used to evaluate pressures and available fire flow throughout the system with just Chamber 2 online.  The inlet/outlet pipe for Chamber 2 runs down Commonwealth Avenue to the Pump Station (blue line in Figure 2) while the main inlet/outlet pipe from the Central Core runs down Ward Street to the Pump Station (red line in Figure 2). Changing the location of where water enters the system from the Reservoir in turn impacted the hydraulics at certain areas of the system, specifically at higher elevations north of the Reservoir.  A recently installed 12-inch diameter interconnection between the two feed lines was opened, reducing the overall headloss in the system.  

The design required a contingency plan, addressing potential challenges such as losing the entire Reservoir due to a water main break on the inlet/outlet pipe to Chamber 2. Through close coordination with T&H, the City, and MWRA, an emergency response plan was created that added enhanced scenarios.  T&H evaluated the model for the best location of a mobile pumping unit and location of pressure relief valves. The City installed additional hydrants so the City could use MWRA’s mobile pumping unit if needed to pump from the northern pressure zone to the southern pressure zone, which required coordinating availability of equipment with MWRA.

Following a review of the challenges, the design scope was revised. Final design and bidding on the project included standpipe rehabilitation, effluent valve and piping replacement, drain valve replacement, check valve replacement, and asphalt shingle roof replacement as well as the standpipe cover and man-way, interior lighting improvements, and instrumentation. 

Construction Challenges 

There were many construction challenges to overcome as part of the design. Record drawings indicated an isolation valve was located on the common inlet/outlet pipe; however, the valve was unable to be found. A new valve was installed as a change order for the project.

The construction contractor was limited to light loads due to the uncertainty of the structural integrity of the roof to support specific loads, meaning no cranes or heavy equipment could be used, and spanning a crane from the access road to the gate chamber was cost prohibitive. 

The existing valves were embedded in concrete and the flanges were severely deteriorated.  Because of the age of the pipe, angles and bolt patterns were not easily matched with modern piping.  Therefore, stainless steel piping was used to fabricate the needed angles to connect the new valves to the common inlet/outlet pipe.

The standpipe was showing signs of severe deterioration.  Under recommendations from MassTank, specialty repairs were required to prolong the life of the standpipe. Steel plates were installed at the joints within the standpipe, both interior and exterior surfaces were sand blasted, a 200 mil epoxy coating was installed on the interior surfaces, and a 10 mil coating was applied to all exterior surfaces.

Initial filling of the reservoir caused Chamber 2 to fill faster than Chambers 1, 3, and 4 which caused the Commonwealth Ave. Pump Station to shut down.  Therefore, the MWRA mobile pumping unit was relocated to the Waban Hill Reservoir and water was pumped from the hatch in Chamber 2 through the hatch in Chamber 1 which was connected to Chamber 3 and 4 through the central core.


Construction was completed in February 2024 and the project was highly successful with minimal service interruption due to a close working partnership with Tata & Howard, the City of Newton (client), and MWRA.


Maher Water Treatment Plant – Groundbreaking Ceremony

On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, the Hyannis Water System and officials from MassDEP held a ceremonial groundbreaking for construction of the new Maher Water Treatment Plant designed by Tata & Howard, Inc.

The $12 million water system upgrade, funded by the MassDEP SRF program, will enable the Town to meet new and stricter federal and state regulations for emerging contaminants. The new plant will treat elevated levels of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), 1,4-Dioxane, iron, and manganese in the three drinking water production wells at the existing facility.

The water filtration building at the Maher Water Treatment Plant has a design capacity of 1,500 gallons per minute. Using granular activated carbon filtration, the successful removal of PFOS/PFOA will be obtained. Advanced oxidation with peroxide and ultraviolent (UV) light will treat 1,4-Dioxane. Lastly, greensand pressure filtration will not only remove the iron and manganese, but also extend the useful life of the granular activated carbon.

Tata & Howard has been instrumental in the evolution of this project. In December of 2016, Tata & Howard provided a conceptual design report to Barnstable’s Department of Public Works. A pilot test report was submitted in early 2018 and design began shortly thereafter.

The Hyannis Water System currently consists of four water treatment facilities, four storage tanks, 12 well pumping stations, and a 107-mile distribution system. The water system provides drinking water services to approximately 18,000 residents through 7,249 metered service connections to residential and commercial properties.

Waterline Industries Corporation of Seabrook, NH constructed the filtration building, and Tata & Howard provided construction administration and resident observation. The facility was operational in October 2020.

Chamberlain Highway Receives New Water Main Connections

The Chamberlain Highway in Meridan, Connecticut has 536 linear feet of new 16-inch ductile iron main and two new fire hydrants. After Tata & Howard completed several test pits to verify connection locations at each end of the new main, construction work started on May 3, 2018 with the installation of a 16” x 16” tapping sleeve and valve at the north end of the project. This existing water main at the north end connection was originally installed in 1894.

Chamberlain West Main

Work progressed south until the new main was approximately 50 feet away from the other connection point in West Main Street. Connections to the existing main in West Main Street was performed over a 36-hour period due to the complexity and amount of utilities around the service connection, including a live 24-inch water main five feet away and multiple telephone conduits located 6 inches above the replaced main. Tata & Howard personnel on site at all times to observe that work was in performed in accordance to the plans and specifications.

Following the completion of the Chamberlain Highway water infrastructure improvement project, work to replace two water mains on the state-owned bridge crossing Sodom Brook in Meridan will begin.

UMASS Amherst Hydraulic Modeling

Tata & Howard developed an extensive hydraulic model of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst campus. The model was verified under steady state and an extended period simulation (EPS) was completed. Tata & Howard conducted a hydraulic review and criticality assessment and used the results to make improvement recommendations. Tata & Howard also identified water distribution system sustainability projects for the irrigation, cooling tower makeup, and toilet flushing water.

This project included a supplemental water supply system analysis. Potential ground and surface water sources on campus, including existing and potentially new stormwater retention ponds, were evaluated for process and irrigation water. In addition, Tata & Howard created a hydraulic model of the UMass reclaimed water system.

The study also examined the effects that the proposed system improvements and interconnections would have on water quality.

Historic Bridge Rehabilitation (circa 1865)

CLIENT: Watertown, CT

PROJECT: Skilton Road Bridge Rehabilitation


THE CHALLENGE: Skilton Road Bridge was originally built in 1865 as a one lane, dry stone masonry arch bridge over the Skilton Gorge in Watertown, Connecticut. Rehabilitation in 1988 included strengthening of the stone masonry with reinforced concrete, and adding concrete guide rails to the bridge. On December 10, 1991, Skilton Road Bridge was added to the National List of Historic Places, and in 2013, the bridge was found to be structurally deficient.

Before rehabilitation
Before rehabilitation

THE SOLUTION: Tata & Howard’s design for the rehabilitation and repair of the bridge required careful consideration of the historical nature of the structure. The design was approved and construction took place in 2015. All structural deficiencies were addressed and the project included the following:

  • Removed existing guide rails
  • Installed prestressed concrete beams across the top of the existing bridge
  • Widened the bridge for two 9’ travel lanes and a sidewalk
  • Installed new aluminum bridge rails covered with wood
  • Repaired the stone masonry on the west abutment wall
  • Added new storm drainage
After rehabilitation
After rehabilitation

PROGRESS: Construction on the Skilton Road Bridge was completed in October of 2015, and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on December 10, 2015. The bridge maintains its historic integrity.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held December 10, 2015
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held December 10, 2015

Dam Reconstruction, Meriden, CT


The Fosters Pond Dam reconstruction project presented several challenges. The existing spillway was inadequate to discharge the 100-year spillway design flood, and the existing dam was in extremely poor condition. The embankments lacked erosion protection and were very steep, the crest was narrow, and the outlet had fallen into disrepair, rendering it inoperable. Therefore, it was imperative that the reconstruction design of Fosters Pond Dam be designed to improve both safety and reliability, provide a functional and operable outlet, and provide ease of maintenance.


The reconstruction included the construction of new and higher reinforced concrete spillway training walls, upstream riprap erosion protection, a new reinforced concrete gate structure with 24″ inlet and outlet pipes and sluice gate, widened embankment crests to 12′, flattened slopes for ease of maintenance, and a gravel road to allow access to the embankment and gate structure. Riprap erosion protection is now provided on the upstream slopes as well as in the discharge channel. Because of these improvements, the dam can safely pass the 100-year spillway design flood with over a foot of freeboard. The length and level of the spillway weir remains unchanged.

Water System Improvements and Funding Assistance, VT


Greensboro Fire District No. 1 (GFD#1), situated on the Northern portion of the Green Mountains in Vermont, requested assistance with their water distribution and treatment systems due to deficiencies identified in a sanitary survey conducted by the State of Vermont. This contract addresses these deficiencies and provides the District a more robust covered water storage tank, secure buildings that house controls and chemicals and related equipment, emergency power generation, and water metering.

As part of the project, Tata & Howard helped GFD#1 secure funding that included a 45% USDA Grant for the originally planned project with an estimated budget of $2,900,000. During the design phase, the District lost their primary well source due to an extended drought. Tata & Howard engineers worked with the District to secure a 100% USDA grant for the cost of constructing a new municipal well source and associated emergency generator and related appurtenances.

Tata & Howard provided design, construction administration, and resident observation for the water system improvements project. Construction began in the spring of 2015 with the setup of a temporary water storage system and demolition of the existing water storage tank roof structure. Precast planks and a ballasted membrane roof were then installed, providing safe, quality water. Two new small buildings were constructed to house chemicals and water well piping and controls, along with an emergency generator to provide continuous water in case of interruption to electrical power.

Great Hill Water Tank Construction, Marion, Massachusetts

This project included construction of a 1.0 million gallon, precast, pre-stressed, wire wound, concrete water storage tank in Marion, Massachusetts, with associated piping and appurtenances, a Tideflex mixing system, and site work. Other work included the decommissioning and demolition of the existing 2.0 million gallon pre-stressed concrete water storage tank at the project site. All work was completed ahead of the August 30, 2015 deadline.

Prepared tank sub-grade
Prepared tank sub-grade
Completed leveling base for tank
Completed leveling base for tank
Tank floor/footing reinforcing steel and seismic cables prior to concrete pour
Tank floor/footing reinforcing steel and seismic cables prior to concrete pour
Completed tank floor/footing
Completed tank floor/footing
Finished tank
Finished tank

Mission Critical Storage Tanks, SLVHCS, New Orleans, LA

CLIENT: NBBJ, Columbus, Ohio

PROJECT: Mission critical storage tank systems for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System (SLVHCS)

hospital new orleans
SLVHCS in New Orleans, LA

THE CHALLENGE: SLVHCS is the successor to the VA Medical Center, which was decimated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The new hospital requirements included green building practices and resiliency during natural disasters, including the ability to remain operational for at least five days with enough provisions and accommodations for up to 1,000 staff and patients in case of a major disaster.

The atrium of Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
The atrium of SLVHCS

THE SOLUTION: Tata & Howard provided design and construction administration services on specific components of the mission critical storage tanks, which include a domestic water tank, sewage holding tank, cooling tower process and bleed water tank, and fire protection water tank. Our design of specific components of the mission critical tanks included coating, waterproofing, mixing, pumping, bacteria control, odor control, venting, piping to five feet outside the tanks, and instrumentation and control. Specific design elements for resiliency and green design included the following:

  • Domestic Water Tank system instrumentation/controls include storage tank level measurement and control of inlet/outlet valves. The system also includes ultraviolet disinfection of all potable water pumped from the storage tank into the hospital.
  • Sewage Holding Tank is waterproof and its control system to provide automated response to an event using electrically actuated valves that direct the sewage from the gravity system to the holding tank. After the event, the system will turn the pumps on and transfer the sewage to the City’s system. A water spray system will automatically wash down the empty tank.
  • Cooling Tower Make-up Water Tank is waterproof and its control system design provides electrically actuated valves to receive rainwater from the building roof drains, condensate from the buildings, and potable water from the City’s water system. The Cooling Tower Make-up system instrumentation/controls include tank level measurement and control of inlet/outlet valves.
  • Cooling Tower Bleedwater Tank is waterproof and its control systems design provides electrically actuated valves to accept water from the cooling towers, recycles water to the cooling towers, and pumps it into the municipal sewer system. The Cooling Tower Bleedwater Tank system instrumentation/controls will include tank level measurement and control of inlet/outlet valves.
  • Fire Protection Water Tank is waterproof and its control system design provides electrically actuated valves to automate control of receipt of water from the CEP/Warehouse roof drains and the City’s water system.
  • The instrumentation and controls for all of the above elements are capable of communicating with the facility ‘s SCADA system.

PROGRESS: The new state-of-the-art facility opened on August 1, 2015, and the building is on track to receive LEED silver certification. For comprehensive information on the new hospital, please click here.

Wastewater Pump Stations, Auburn, MA

CLIENT: Town of Auburn, Massachusetts Department of Public Works

PROJECT: Replacement of three existing wastewater pump stations

wastewater pump station
The buildings are situated on very small sites

THE CHALLENGE: The sites were very small and restricted with high groundwater levels, and there were adjacent wetlands and private property. All three buildings were also very small and had other issues such as asbestos.

THE SOLUTION: We determined that the best course of action would be to demolish the buildings and convert the concrete dry pit that housed the pumping equipment into a wetwell for new, submersible pumps. The solution saved the Town hundreds of thousands of dollars.

wastewater pump stations
An existing building is inspected during the design phase

PROGRESS: Tata & Howard provided the project design and will be putting the project out to bid this summer. We will also provide construction administration when construction begins in the fall.