Division 7 Reservoir Replacement

Project Summary (Project No. C2111)

Aerial photo of existing and proposed Division 7 Reservoirs

The original intent of this project was to provide a seismic upgrade to the 1-million gallon welded-steel Division 7 Reservoir constructed in 1970. Following analysis done as part of the 2017 update to the District’s Water System Comprehensive Plan, the project intent was shifted from upgrading the current 1-million gallon reservoir to replacing it with two 237,900 gallon reservoirs, together totaling 475,800 gallons.

The project also implements an earthquake early warning system (ShakeAlert®) to automatically isolate a portion of the volume from rapid depletion due to water main breaks following an earthquake.  The project is located near Swallow Circle in Sudden Valley.



Project History

The original intent of this project was to provide a seismic upgrade to the existing 1-million gallon welded-steel Division 7 Reservoir constructed in 1970.

The existing Division 7 Reservoir

In 2016, BHC Consultants completed a Reservoir Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of all five of the District’s welded steel reservoirs which included Division 7, SVWTP Chlorine Contact Basin, Division 22, Division 30, and Geneva reservoirs. The assessment identified the Division 7 Reservoir as having the highest probability of failure and one of the highest consequences of failure, making it the recommended highest priority for retrofit or replacement.

In 2017, a system-wide reservoir capacity analysis found that the 1-million gallon Division 7 Reservoir is oversized. The analysis indicated that the required reservoir size is roughly 0.5-million gallons.  Wilson Engineering LLC prepared a technical memorandum dated February 8, 2018 that analyzed options to perform seismic retrofits to the existing reservoir, or replace it with one or two new smaller reservoirs.

The analysis concluded that two new 237,900 gallon reservoirs provided a significant advantage over retrofitting the existing 1 million gallon reservoir.  Advantages included capital cost, water quality, improved water system pressure, resiliency of having two parallel reservoirs, maintenance, and feasibility of continued operations during construction and future maintenance.

In 2018, the District submitted a Hazard Mitigation Grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) utilizing Wilson Engineering’s conceptual reservoir sizing. The grant application identified the project as construction of two new reservoirs with implementation of ShakeAlert on each.

Rendering of proposed Division 7 Reservoir

In 2020, FEMA requested additional information to complete their review of the application.  Wilson Engineering prepared a second technical memorandum dated December 28, 2020.  The memo included:

  1. An analysis of the expected duration of a reservoir outage in the case of a severe earthquake that would impact the existing seismically vulnerable Division 7 reservoir.
  2. An analysis of the population that would be impacted by an unexpected outage of Division 7 reservoir.
  3. A capital cost estimate of two welded steel water reservoirs and updated cost estimates for the two concrete reservoirs as detailed in the previous memorandum
  4. Life cycle cost analysis of new concrete reservoirs and new welded steel reservoirs – comparing capital and maintenance costs to achieve 100 year life of reservoirs.

The conclusion was two smaller concrete reservoirs is the best overall long-term option.


Phase 1 – Design/Permitting was completed in December 2023. A public information session was held on July 12, 2022.

District General Manager Justin Clary & Community Liaison Sean Connell from the office of U.S. Representative Rick Larsen at the project groundbreaking ceremony.

Phase 2 – The project was advertised for construction bids on January 10, 2024, with bid opening completed on February 27, 2024. Nine bids were received, with the lowest responsible, responsive bidder determined to be Tiger Construction, Ltd. The District Board of Commissioners awarded the construction contracted to Tiger Construction, Ltd. during its regularly scheduled meeting held on March 13, 2024. To accommodate the limited work window created by the Lake Whatcom watershed land disturbance restrictions (limited to June 1 through September 30 of each year), the total project (new reservoir construction, existing reservoir demolition and site restoration) is anticipated to begin June 1, 2024 and extend into the Summer of 2025.






Project Cost

The total project cost is estimated at $3.0M (design, permitting, and construction).

To limit impacts to District finances, the project is being funded by a variety of external sources:

Based upon the secured funding, the project has a surplus of approximately $300,000 to cover any project change orders. The District intends to use external grant funding first to limit impacts on District finances and future loan obligations.

Project Contact

Justin Clary
General Manager

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