EXETER TWP., Pa. -

The Pennsylvania American Water company is giving folks a rare look inside a refurbished water tank.

The company just finished painting two steel tanks in Exeter Township. One tank, built in 1968 and last painted in 1997, holds a half-million gallons of water; the other, built and last painted in 1990, holds a million gallons.

The $620,000 project included inspecting, sandblasting and repainting each tank to provide a protective barrier that, officials said, prevents the steel from rusting and compromising water quality.

"Storage tanks are a critical part of our water infrastructure because they ensure that adequate, reliable water supplies are always available for the community," said James Reynolds, field operations supervisor. "Rehabilitation projects like this one not only extend the tanks' lifespan, but they also represent a significant cost savings in contrast to replacing the structures."

The two storage tanks are among eight the Pennsylvania Water Company operates to serve about 9,100 water customers and about 800 fire hydrants in Exeter and Amity townships, and their location off Grant Street is crucial, officials said.

"With the water system, some systems you pump. In this particular area here, everything is gravity-fed. We try to put out tanks at the highest level to provide maximum pressure throughout the system," Reynolds said.

Work to rehabilitate the tanks started in March. The million-gallon tank was returned to service in June; the half-million-gallon tank, officials said, should be operational again by Aug. 15.