IA Council Approves Water Tower Repairs
Earlier this month, the Clear Lake City Council in Iowa voted 4-0 at a meeting to proceed with painting and repairing a million-gallon water tower on South 24th Street near Interstate 35.
According to a report from The Globe Gazette, the council had budgeted up to $500,000 for the project in the fiscal year 2024. Work is now expected to begin in March or April, depending on the weather.
About the Project
The project, which will be overseen by tank rehabilitation company Dixon Engineering, reportedly includes sandblasting, pressure washing the exterior, prepping rust breakthroughs, applying three coats of epoxy and applying one primer coat of paint.
The report states that, right now, the work has an estimated completion date for some time around June 8. Additionally, bidding for the project is set to begin on Dec. 19, while a public hearing to review the bids is planned for Jan. 2.
The tower was originally built in 2011 and needs to be drained for inside maintenance work. No disruption of water service is expected, reportedly due to Clear Lake’s two other towers with a total capacity of 1.25 million gallons.
The report adds that the tower usually maintains the water system’s pressure and acts as water storage for both domestic and fire suppression purposes.
According to Dixon Engineering's Tim Wilson, most of the work will be completed on the outside of the tower's tank.
"The wet interior coating of the tank in its existing state is in pretty good shape. The work we're including in the wet interior is basically just for repairs," Wilson stated, adding that while there is no formal warranty for the painting, manufacturers have previously corrected any issues from their end.
In April, the council also approved an engineering services agreement for professional services in preparation of specifications, bidding services and contract documents for making improvements to the city’s east water tower near I-35.
This one-million-gallon water tower was reportedly built in 2009 and had first been emptied in September 2021 for inspections.
According to the report, these inspections found that the water tower should have an exterior tank painting, an interior tank coating maintenance and other repairs to the water tower.
“It’s an exterior full blast and recoat, which will require containment. If you are familiar with that, they basically install some arms and a shroud that is covering that area the whole time they are working inside of it to primarily control dust and make sure that coating does not leave the site in the wind,” Wilson said about the project.
“Towers are notorious for being high enough in the air that they are going to catch wind and that’s going to travel.”
The council reportedly approved the engineering agreement with Dixon Engineering for an amount no greater than $9,925. The schedule called for bidding the work in the winter and for work to begin in April 2024.
Other IA Water Tower Work
In August of last year, a paint scheme for a new water tower in Sheldon, Iowa, was tentatively approved by the city’s council, moving the project forward again since its initial proposal. The news arrived just months after city officials expressed concern over how they planned to fund the project amidst recent inflation.
The new water tower was first proposed back in 2016, planned for the northeast corner at Country Club Road and 16th Street.
In October 2021, the Sheldon City Council announced that it would use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for the tower, which was estimated to cost around $3.5 million. In total, the city is receiving $757,338.25 through the funding.
The project was expected to be able to use tax increment financing fund, but the money from the ARP would reportedly allow the city to stretch the bond fund further.
In June 2022, the council met to discuss additional financing ideas for the water tower. Reports noted that finances had changed since its first proposal, with inflation and interest rates causing some concerns with the price tag for the water tower.
The original plan indicated to pay off the water tower with an 18-year capital loan note. However, at a meeting, City Manager Sam Kooiker suggested that a 10-year note would be more beneficial. The total project cost for the water tower was $3,643,410. A 10-year note, as opposed to an 18-year note, would be for $3.5 million.
In a memo to the council, Kooiker and Sheldon Public Works Director Todd Uhl advised the council not to delay the water tower project for three reasons:
At th beginning of August in 2022, the Sheldon City Council tentatively approved the water tower paint job. Teri Elgersma, a member of the committee selected to discuss the issue, addressed the council, noting that in addition to the name of the community in a stylized font, they also had chosen some scenes to be painted on the tower.
Elgersma also presented a video of a simulated “fly-by” of the water tower design. She said that they went with some “fairly obvious colors,” as orange and black are the local school district’s colors.
The council then voted to use the “design as presented, subject to minute changes, but the design will be the approved representative spec.” The water tower “may or may not” have the shape represented in the design scheme.