MA Water Tower Undergoing $3.6M Rehab
The Forest Street Water Tower in Methuen, Massachusetts, will be out of service for the next seven month as it undergoes a $3.6 million renovation project. Starting last month, the water tower will see upgrades to ladder systems and entrances, a roof venting system and coatings work, among other repairs.
Water Department officials reportedly determined that the tower was “starting to show its age,” particularly when last year the annual Water Quality Report found that “the outside protective coatings are failing and the inside is also starting to break down.”
About the Project
According to reports, the tower has been a Methuen landmark since it was constructed in the early 1970s and provides service to homes in the city’s West End. The structure stands at 100 feet tall and more than 80 feet wide, with a capacity of 3.8 million gallons.
Prior to work beginning in September, the tower was completely drained and taken offline for the first time in more than 25 years.
Daryl Laurenza, Superintendent of Water Distribution, said that pumps feeding the tower were turned off and the first two million gallons were used by residents. Then, fire hydrants were used for six days to siphon out the remaining 1.8 million gallons after water pressure began to fall.
METHUEN — For the next seven months, the famed Forest Street Water Tower will be out of service for a tremendous overhaul. https://t.co/mTctJ2FdL5— The Eagle-Tribune (@EagleTrib) October 12, 2022
Afterwards, the tank was encapsulated in scaffolding and plastic in preparation for sandblasting and painting, both externally and internally.
According to Laurenza, in an interview with MethuenLife, the scaffolding was completed in phases, with phase one of scaffolding completed in about four weeks to bring the scaffolding roughly 80 feet high surrounding the tank for work on all the communication antennas’ removal and relocations. Phase two added 25 to exceed the roof line for the remainder of the work to be performed.
Laurenza said that the structure will be brought up to meet or exceed 2022 OSHA safety standards. This includes upgrades to the ladder system, improved entrances ways, upgrading the tank’s roof-venting system and installing a new internal water-quality mixing system.
Additionally, a large “M” will be painted on the side of the tower, which will reportedly be visible to drivers entering the city on I-93 North.
The contractor for the project is Atlas Painting and Sheeting Corporation of Amherst, New York. The $3.6 million project is funded by the city’s Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal 2023.
The water tank is expected to be offline through the first week of May 2023. The project is under “strict timelines” due to the Forest Street Water Tank being a “very important part” of the water distribution system, particularly before summer when water usage almost doubles, Laurenza said.
Mayor Neil Perry said the upgrades will allow the tower to function at “peak operational efficiency” for the next 40 years. “The tower is being refurbed both inside and out. We are tracking the process to completion,” said Perry.
“The city of Methuen owes residents running water. Unfortunately, it will be costly, but the maintenance for the Forest Street Water Tower is a basic necessity,” said Councilor-at-Large Jessica Finocchiaro. “We’re told these improvements should extend our water tower’s timeline to the next generation at least, which is sound long-term planning.”
Editor's Note: This article was corrected on Oct. 17, 2022, at 9:36 a.m. to accurately reflect the correct cost of the project.