The West Hempstead skyline is changing after 84 years.
The old water tower —built in 1939 — is being carefully dismantled. It is too close to homes to be demolished with explosives, so a contractor is tearing it down in pieces.
Dismantling of the old tank should be completed by the end of May, according to Jason Belle, superintendent of the West Hempstead Water District.
“It’s going well,” Belle said. “They basically cut patches out of the top with acetylene torches and are working their way down the sides. Once most of the bowl is down, they crane it out and start working their way down.”
Construction on the new water tank began in 2017, and the structure went online in October of 2019.
The Town of Hempstead unanimously approved an $8.4 million bond in 2017 to build a new water tower, and fund other upgrades throughout the district. The old tower held 750,000 gallons of water and stood at 225 feet. The new tower holds 1 million gallons of water and stands at 165 feet.
Belle said the entire water district pumps between 2 and 3 million gallons of water a day. That usage doubles in the summer.
“Us Long Islanders, we love our green lawns,” he said. “Most districts in the Northeast triple their usage in the summer. We always push conservation because the more water we pump, the more we have to repair or do preventative maintenance.”
Part of the benefit of replacing the old water tower was less maintenance. According to officials, the old tower needed costly maintenance approximately every 10 years. The new tower is designed to require major maintenance only every 20-25 years.
The West Hempstead Water District received a $3.9 million grant from the state in 2021 to design and construct a new water treatment tank to remove 1,4-Dioxane from water.
The district currently draws water from seven wells beneath Long Island. There is also a 1.5 million gallon ground storage tank and a booster station that can pump 6,000 gallons of water per minute, according to the district.
Former West Hempstead Water District Supervisor Robert York said in a previous Herald story that the old tank is the last one of its kind on Long Island.
The water district was created in 1926 and contains 125 miles of water mains throughout approximately 2 square miles through West Hempstead, Garden City South and a large portion of Franklin Square. The district serves more than 32,000 people.