At the College’s Gas Depot, Two Inconspicuous Pumps Fuel Essential Services Year-Round

August 5, 2015
Vehicles fuel up at Wellelsey's gas pumps

Few people have seen the gas depot that keeps Wellesley on the move. Even those who have been to the motor pool facility, across from Wellesley’s Nehoiden Golf Course, might not have noticed two unassuming pumps that provide gasoline, diesel, and biofuel for the College’s more than 100 motorized vehicles.

Among those vehicles are five police cruisers, three vans for the athletic department, five Center for Work and Service vans that take students to surrounding towns to work in schools, and two escort vans that provide transportation around campus at night. “Everything we do is for the benefit and safety of students,” said Wayne Bouchard, acting head of the motor pool and the proud father of a rising Wellesley junior.

When a vehicle pulls up for service, a member of the motor pool crew fills the tank, cleans the windows, and checks tire pressure and tire wear. “If there’s a problem, we fix it,” said Bouchard.

The gas pumps hold 6,000 gallons of gasoline, 1,000 gallons of diesel, and 500 gallons of biodiesel. Biodiesel is used primarily in the summer, said Bouchard, because it turns gel-like in cold weather.

During the winter, the depot provides fuel for snowplows and 25 backup generators that are used in various buildings on campus. In warmer months, those items give way to lawnmowers and to golf carts utilized by the grounds crew.

The pumps may look simple, but they run on a program called Fuel Master, which tracks inventory and how much fuel is used by each vehicle. A variety of safeguards—including underground vaults that are monitored by a Veeder-Root leak-detection system, an industry standard—prevent ground contamination. “Nothing can go into the ground,” said Bouchard. “That’s important since we’re close to the Charles River Watershed.”

Summer is the slowest time for the gas depot, but traffic will increase once the first-year students and the athletic teams arrive later this month. By mid-September, the college will be in full swing, with students traveling for class field trips and trustees coming to campus. “A few weeks after that, we start preparing for winter,” said Bouchard. “But whatever the weather, we will provide the fuel necessary to maintain essential functions.”