Board Proposes to Repaint Water Tower - Versus Building New One

Despite the high price tag, the Washington Board of Public Works opted to move forward with a plan to repaint the Crestview water tower.

The board instructed Water/Wastewater Superintendent Kevin Quaethem to seek bids for the paint work in order to keep the project on schedule. The painting is estimated to cost between $600,000-$700,000.

Last month Quaethem informed the board the tower needs a complete paint removal. Each layer of paint on the tower has to be taken off before a new layer is put on.

During the stripping process, the entire tower will have to be completely contained. Since the base layer was painted with lead paint, Quaethem said a “big canvas” will be needed to cover the tower.

Tower Alternatives

Faced with the cost, the board instructed Quaethem to look at other options including building a new tower. At Tuesday morning’s meeting, Quaethem presented the board with results of what it would cost to install a 1-million gallon tank to replace the 500,000-gallon tank currently in use.

A Pedeshere Tank, one that’s almost identical to the current Crestview tower, would cost an estimated $3.1 million. A composite tank, similar to one in New Melle, has an estimated price tag of $2.8 million.

The final option, a standpipe tower similar to ones just off Enduro Drive in the Heidmann Industrial Park and on Clay Street, would cost $1,277,000.

Quaethem said none of these estimates included the cost of demolition and decommissioning the existing tower.

City Engineer John Nilges said, because of the lead paint involved, the actual cost of taking down the tower is nearly impossible to calculate.

“That’s a wildcard number,” he said.

Quaethem said the reason he looked at 1-million-gallon towers is because of the city’s recent hydraulic study. The study, conducted by Donohue Engineering, said that based on current growth trends, the city would need an additional 500,000-gallon tank on the east end of town by 2028.

The additional gallons would also help with fire coverage and protect the city’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The ISO rating helps set insurance rates at businesses and homes.

The Crestview tower was built in 1974. Quaethem said towers can last up to 100 years and should be decommissioned well after everyone on the board is dead.

The new paint job would come with a 25-year warranty and would be a more high-quality paint, he said.

Councilman Steve Sullentrup asked what could potentially go “catastrophically” wrong with the tower that would cause costly repairs. Quaethem said the only danger is if the tower were to fall during an earthquake or tornado.

“They’re pretty much bulletproof,” he said.

The board agreed it was too early, and too costly, to simply replace the Crestview tower with a newer version. Instead, the board supported seeking bids for the paint job so work can start in March.

Quaethem estimated it could take up to six months to finish so the city would like painters to start as early as possible.

Second Tower


While the board agreed to save and repaint the Crestview tower, it also began discussions about adding a new tower.

With the hydraulic study saying the city needs an extra 500,000-gallon tank by 2028, the board suggested making plans to purchase the new tower.

Board member Brad Mitchell said 11 years “isn’t that long” of a time and price tag for a new tower is only going to go up.

“Money spent today might be savings tomorrow,” Mitchell said.

Quaethem said the board had previously discussed building a second tower near the Phoenix Center development. He said that area could use a tower to help “stabilize” the system.

A tower in that area of town would help alleviate pressure issues in the Stone Crest subdivision, he said.

Knowing how much it would cost to build a 1-million gallon tower, the board instructed Quaethem and Nilges to look into what the city would need to do to build an additional 500,000-gallon tower on the east end of town.

Board President Kurt Voss said because the tower would help the ISO rating, it would actually benefit everyone in Washington. He suggested Quaethem prepare something now to have ready for the next wave of capital sales tax improvement projects.

Quaethem said he’d look into the cost and details for the second tower for a future board meeting.


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