MUSCATINE, Iowa – An inspection of the gas and diesel storage tanks at the City of Muscatine boat harbor and marina, and a test of the gas and diesel being dispensed confirmed that water was not being dispensed with the gas and diesel. The test was performed by Central Petroleum Equipment Company (CPEC) who installed and maintains the tanks at the Muscatine location.
Nick Gow, Superintendent of Parks for the City of Muscatine, said that the CPEC worker pumped gas from the City’s pump into a mason jar and looked for separation of gas from water.
“If there was any water in the gas, the maintenance worker told us that we would see separation within less than a minute given that the crude oil that gas is made of would float to the top of the gas quickly,” Gow said.
The result of the test was that no water was in the liquid contained in the mason jar. A second test, using paste on a stick, also found no water in the jar. The paste on a stick is the same test used to determine the water level in the tanks. CPEC concluded that the test results indicate that there is no water in our fuel that is being dispensed to the boaters.
Gow also spoke with Spratt Oil who supplied the fuel in early July to see if they had any idea how water could be getting from the City tanks into the boaters tank.
“Spratt assured us that the fuel that we received from them was water free,” Gow said. “They also suggested we contact CPEC who has performed maintenance on our tanks in the past, and who installed our gas pump.”
The concern about water in the gas started in early July when the Parks and Recreation Department received a complaint about water being in the gas dispensed at the Marina Operations.
“We take any complaint seriously and investigate thoroughly,” Richard Klimes, Director of Parks and Recreation, said. “Boater safety is important to us and we always respond as quickly as possible to all concerns.”
Any water that forms from condensation inside the tank or finds its way inside the tank by other means would form a layer at the bottom of the tank and separate from the gas. The tanks at the Muscatine Harbor and Marina have been inspected and certified to be in perfect condition and that means that any water in the tanks would be coming from condensation inside the tank.
“CPEC told us that having slight amounts of water in the bottom of the tank was common in almost all fuel tanks,” Gow said. “And we can confirm that water is not entering our tanks through any other means.”
A layer of water 1.5 inches thick was found at the bottom of the tank in early July which amounts to approximately 10 gallons of water in a 2,000 gallon tank. The layer was still well below the suction point for the gas which is three inches from the bottom of the tank. Gow said that the water was pumped out of the bottom after the first test with all but approximately a half inch of water removed (or about two gallons in a 2,000 gallon tank).
“The level of the water layer was still at a half inch when we measured the tank last Monday,” Gow said.
While the inspections and tests conducted by CPEC have conclusively ruled out the possibility of water being dispensed with the gas from the City Gas Dock, the City is taking CPEC’s advice and installing a hydro filter on the fuel tank that will collect any water prior to being dispensed.
“The filter is filled with starch like material that will collect water and will not allow it past the filter and into the tanks of the boaters,” Gow said.
This additional safety measure will be installed for both the gas and diesel pumps with replacement filters kept on hand at the gas dock.
Parks and Recreation staff recommend that boaters check the filters on their own boats, and check for condensation in their own tanks. Condensation can occur during periods when the boat is not used and fuel is left in the tank which could diminish engine performance. A dirty or clogged filter is another of the causes for poor engine performance.