As construction crews near the halfway point of Lafayette’s Combined Sewer Overflow project, they’re finishing off some big elements. Friday, the city opened a giant water tank, about the size of an NFL football field, for media tours before it’s sealed off.
To enter the tank on Friday morning, visitors including State Rep. Sheila Klinker and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski had to walk through a darkened pipe, nine feet in diameter.
“Can you imagine when the water’s flowing through here?” Roswarski says.
“Listen to that echo. Woo!” Klinker says.
At the end of the tunnel: a vast room with the look and feel of a Gothic cathedral, complete with soaring concrete beams and shafts of light pouring in through openings in the ceiling. The seven-foot thick walls were poured using Indiana’s largest concrete pump truck.
The space is empty for now, but it won’t stay that way. The 30-foot tall tank is designed to hold 4.2 million gallons of sewage and water runoff. That’s enough liquid to fill all the homes on two or three city blocks’ worth of houses.
Engineer Tim Healy says in the future the site – or at least the land above it – will be a space for the community.
“And when we’re finished, this will all be a nice, grass area, that people can access from the trail that’s right along the river there,” Healy says.
The city estimates the tank will keep 200 million gallons of sewage out of the Wabash River yearly.