EA Tanks’s Glass-Fused-to-Steel Tank Keeps North Dakota Oil Boom from Being a Bust for Community Residents

Oil booms can provide great benefits to the communities surrounding them, but they can also put a great b­urden on infrastructures of the cities, towns and rural systems in the midst of them.

The North Dakota oil boom that took off in the northwestern part of the state in 2011 brought many of these benefits to the city of Stanley located just 68 miles from Williston, the nexus of the oil activity. However, Stanley's water supply and distribution system needed to be updated to handle a population that would soon more than double.

Keeping Up with the Growth

To deal with this increased demand for water in both Stanley and its surrounding rural areas, legislators established the Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWS), which now serves about 70,000 customers with quality water from the Missouri River.

Executive Director Jaret Wirtz, who has been leading WAWS since its inception, said, “The dramatic population growth the region has seen in the past six to eight years forced us to increase the size of the pipeline that was feeding the cities of Stanley and Ross. With the oil boom bringing more people into the cities coupled with new distribution systems providing water out to rural residents, a larger storage reservoir was needed.” The result was the construction of a 1,000,000-gallon Glass-Fused-to-Steel water tank from EA Tanks.

Key Criteria in Tank Selection

Cory Chorne, project manager at AE2S, said, “We were looking at two main criteria in selecting the tank. One was that it had to be a quality product, and our design company has had lots of experience and success putting up EA Tanks’s glass-fused-to-steel tanks. The preferred choice for municipal, industrial and agricultural applications due to its low-maintenance, high-durability porcelain enamel (Glass-Fused-to-Steel) coating, EA Tanks’s tank perfectly met the criteria AE2S, the engineering firm WAWS was working with, had specified. Chorne continued, “The other was that the solution had to be economical. Those two things were really the drivers behind the type of tank we selected.”

Chorne said the special features of the glass-fused-to-steel tank are what make it such an economical choice. The challenge with using steel with water storage reservoirs is that you can have corrosion issues. EA Tanks’s chosen factory coats the steel with a very long-lasting Glass-Fused-to-Steel coating system that is fired to achieve a robust protective coating for the steel.

Chorne liked the fact that the glass coating is done in the factory before the tank is shipped to site. He said, “A lot of testing is done in the manufacturing facility so you’ve got good quality control on the manufacturing a coating process before the panels are shipped out and bolted together onsite versus other steel tanks that are welded and painted in the field. That makes quality much harder to control.”

Benefits of Glass-Fused-to-Steel

“The glass coating was definitely a consideration in choosing the tank,” said Todd Pokrzywinski, WAWSA Operations Manager, noting that the high plains of North Dakota can experience some fierce weather during certain seasons.

The factory-applied silica glass coating on EA Tanks’s Glass-Fused-to-Steel tanks forms a hard, inert barrier for both the interior and exterior tank surfaces, which protects against weather conditions and corrosion. Glass-Fused-to-Steel is impermeable to liquids and vapors, and controls undercutting caused by corrosion, and offers excellent impact and abrasion resistance.

A Smooth and Seamless Process

Pokrzywinski said, “We also liked the ability to build the tank in a short amount of time. We could build it in one construction season and have it on line right away.”

Design of the tank started in 2015, constructed and put into service in December 2016. “It was a very organized, well run process,” Wirtz said of the construction. “From start to finish, the communication was great. EA Tanks was always accessible.”

He added, “This wasn’t the first project we’ve done with EA Tanks. In fact, we’ve done seven. We can use multiple kinds of tanks in North Dakota and the upper Midwest, but the size of the reservoir needed really warranted this design. EA Tanks’s glass-fused-to-steel tank fit our scenario best.”

Chorne agreed, saying, “We have worked with EA Tanks for the better part of 20 years and have had really good success. One, they have good products. And, as important as that is, they provide excellent customer service and stand behind their products.”

Wirtz said the installation has received many positive comments from the residents in the community, especially from the several hundred rural water users who are excited about having higher quality water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes and clothes.

“Getting the needed water out to the rural residents has been a huge challenge, and EA Tanks’s tank was an integral part of the infrastructure needed to achieve that goal. The ability to move more water downstream with EA Tanks’s tank helps everyone,” he said.

Everyone On the Same Page

“Like anything, a project of this magnitude takes teamwork and a well executed plan,” Pokrzywinski said, “and having all parties on the same page is essential. We worked well with everyone involved, starting with the landowners who gave us access, to the overall tank design, experience with EA Tanks and their tank product, and seamless transition to this above ground tank.”

Wirtz agreed, saying, “Having proper interaction between all parties helped us have open communication about our needs and our time frame, which is what you need to make a project succeed.”

“We really liked the cost-effectiveness of this project,” Chorne said. “But to me, the most successful part of this project was that it ended up being routine. And being routine is an engineer’s dream.”

The EA Tanks Advantage

Since 1980, EA Tanks (EAI) has operated in the municipal, industrial and agricultural marketplaces offering complete and comprehensive storage tank solutions building and maintaining bolted storage tanks, custom geodesic domes and covers. Our factory-certified crews have installed over 1,600 bolted storage tanks nationwide. EAI can provide tank inspections and routine maintenance allowing you to meet state and national requirements and/or AWWA standards, thereby providing you with a one-source solution for your storage needs.