Plans call for replacing downtown water tower

Theres not much life left in a prominent part of the landscape of downtown Vermillion. Once city leaders secure adequate funding, a new, larger water tower will be constructed in northwest Vermillion and the century-old downtown tower will be taken down. (Photo by David Lias)

The city of Vermillion has received a loan/grant to replace the nearly century-old Market Street water tower, but more financing may need to be located before the project gets off the ground.

Last month, the city received a $1,532,000 loan for the project, $153,200 of which is in the form of a grant. The money was awarded by the state Board of Water and Natural Resources and administered through the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

At this point in time, were taking a look at the financing of this tower, said City Manager John Prescott. We havent put it to bid yet, so we dont know the exact cost.

But if were looking at a $1.5 million project, what were trying to do is evaluate what the best way is to go now since we didnt receive the level of grant funding that wed hoped to for this project.

One thing is certain: The downtown water tower will eventually be taken out of service.

Theres periodic maintenance that you have to do, and one of those decision points where we need to invest that sort of maintenance dollar into it, or else take it out of service and create a new one, Prescott said. Taking that out of service would allow us to avoid investing those dollars into a tower that is 100 years old.

The tower, constructed in 1912, would need a number of repairs and alterations to bring it up to modern standards as outlined by the American Waterworks Association and OSHA.

Basically, the interior of the tank is in poor shape, said city engineer Harold Holoch. It needs a complete sandblasting and repainting on the interior of the water tank. The exterior of the tank is in fair condition, but to repaint that would be fairly expensive.

Some of the paint on the tower is lead-based, and would most likely need to be removed.

The original paint is several coats, Holoch said. There comes a point where you just cant keep adding another layer of paint because it wont adhere. Itll just peel off.

Ladders, the existing balcony rail system and venting also would need to be altered, which would cost up to $300,000, Holoch said.

Even if those changes were to be made, another concern would remain.

We still would have a 1912 tank that only holds 100,000 gallons of water, Holoch said.

It was recommended that the community have combined elevated water storage equivalent to one days demand.

Our current average day demands about 1.1 million gallons a day, and we have elevated storage of the 500,000 in Prentis Park and this 100,000 gallon tank, Holoch said.

A potential location for the new water tower has been identified east of Wal-Mart.

It would actually improve our fire protection in those areas and our water pressure within our water system by installing our tower there, where (with) the current location, theres not a lot of community south of that water tower, Holoch said.

He added that construction of a new tower will not affect water use or quality for the rest of the community.

Overall, a new water tower will be better for Vermillions water system and the city in general, Prescott said.

Were trying to position the community for future growth, he said.

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One Response to Plans call for replacing downtown water tower

  1. Sharon Gray says:

    I wish there were a way for us to preserve this iconic landmark. I know we’d need to somehow develop a fund for upkeep in perpetuity, but it seems that might just be possible. Most of the people I’ve spoken with are very sad to think of this element of Vermillion’s history and skyline being demolished.

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