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Posted 5/25/2012

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By Dave Palmer
Los Angeles District

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Vandenberg Air Force Base is currently home to the second largest reinforced concrete dome in the world. By summer's end, they may have some bragging rights anyway; a twin is on the way.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District has the first of two, 4-million-gallon reservoir tanks online, with the second scheduled for completion in September.

Surprisingly they aren't adding capacity as much as economies of efficiency. The previous reservoir tanks were built in the 1940s, when the base was the Army's Camp Cooke, and they were leaking like sieves.

"The biggest hurdle we faced was drying out the site," said Construction Control Representative Valencia Wynn. "The water table was already pretty high in this area, but it was obvious the tanks had been leaking for years."

Wynn mentioned the previous reservoirs did enjoy some longevity, but the replacements will be in service for a century and she intends to check up on them for some time to come.

"We'll place approximately 1,700 cubic yards of concrete per tank," said Greg Tague, a quality control manager for SOLTEK Pacific Construction. "Once we completed the first tank... we calculated that the roof alone weighs 940 tons."

The new reservoirs support a population of more than 18,000; military, family members, contractors, and civilian employees.

For some perspective, the U.S. Geological Survey says if you built a pool to hold a million-gallons it would need to be 267 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 10 feet deep. You're on your own for any higher math.