Clean drinking water is essential, and modern water processing plants and storage tanks are found all across the United States to provide potable water on demand. But this water should not be taken for granted; potable water is only possible because of water storage tank liners, which prevent water tanks from leaking their contents. Custom tank liners can also keep out harmful solar radiation and prevent bacteria from getting into the tank, too, and the same is true of water treatment tank lining. So, what are the proper procedures and steps for setting up and maintaining a tank for storing potable water? What might go wrong with these tanks?
Water Tank Basics
Tanks for storing water or chemicals tend to be quite large, and to save room, they are built underground (and there are some regulations for this). Still, small tanks are exempt; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that underground tanks that store 110 gallons or under are not subject to those rules. As for what constitutes an “underground tank,” the federal government defines one as a tank (or tank system) whose piping and body has at least 10% of the total volume underground. Many of them are totally underground, such as storing farm chemicals or a lot of potable water, and car must be taken so that these tanks do not leak their contents. Among other preventative measures, the EPA has a list of 140 different chemicals that (in sufficiently large quantities) call for the owners to present a risk management plan to federal regulators. Water is not among them, but still, proper lining is needed so that water stored inside a tank remains suitable for human use.
Tank Storage and Lining
Some underground tanks hold potable water; others store chemicals or even gasoline, and steps must be taken to prevent leaks at all costs. One fine step, especially for potable water, is to include tank lining, which often takes the form of plastic or vinyl materials that are easily installed and act as a sort of internal raincoat. These linings can act as a buffer between the water and the bare metal inside, and this can help prevent the tank from corroding or rusting, and it will prevent the tank’s body from contaminating the water stored inside. Such lining can be bought wholesale from suppliers, and the buyer must know the storage capacity of their tank so they buy a lining of the right size.
Some lining must also protect the contents from UV light from the sun, for above-ground tanks, and it’s important that the owner gets linings with the right properties. Of course, the lining must be waterproof and leakproof, and the lining should not even allow water vapor or evaporation to compromise the water being stored inside. Water can escape a container in all sorts of ways, so the lining must be ready for that. It is also ideal if the tank lining is durable and resistant to puncture, and the longer a tank lining can last, the better. Routine inspections allow the owner to check for problems early on, and fix or even replace the lining of need be. Water stored inside faulty lining or a leaky tank may soon be compromised.
On a related note, storage tanks have other safe storage methods to prevent leaks, such as having two walls. Some tanks just have one wall that makes up their body, but if a tank has two walls, then if the inner wall leaks or is breached, then the contents can only go as far as the empty space between those walls. This can, for example, prevent a partially underground tank from leaking gas into the soil and causing an environmental problem. Such tanks also tend to have automatic alarm systems in them, so if the inner wall leaks and the in-between space gets flooded, then the operators are notified and can call for repair experts right away. When explosive materials such as gasoline are being stored, it also pays to have warning signs installed in the area.