By Travis Gulbrandson
Thanks to some unexpected interference from Mother Nature, Vermillion’s new water tower took a bit longer to erect than estimates had indicated.
“They were hoping to put this together all in one day, but it ended up being three days for them to do it,” said water department superintendent Randy Isaacson. “It seemed like they’d get a piece on it, and then the wind would pick up.”
Isaacson described the building process as executed by Maguire Iron, Inc., of Sioux Falls, on New Year’s week. Maguire also made the individual pieces of the tower.
During a special meeting of the Vermillion City Council Monday afternoon, Isaacson said it took two attempts to place the top half of the bowl of the water tower.
“They raised it up, and (it) was just starting to go over the bottom part of the bowl, and the wind picked up,” he said. “They had about a 25 mile-an-hour gust, and the whole thing swung over about 10 feet.
“The crane operator was able to get it moved back … and he set it down pretty quickly.”
The process was originally estimated to take 6-7 hours, with Maguire workers utilizing a crane that had to be brought into town using six semi trucks.
Isaacson said the base section was in place for “quite some time” before the column was fastened on with three or four two-foot welds.
The bottom half of the bowl came next, followed by the top half.
“There’s actually no welds in (the bowls),” Isaacson said. “They use a series of clamps on the inside and outside to hold it in place until we get the welding completed.”
After the bowls were placed, a piece known as the “dry tube” was inserted through the top.
“There’s a ladder system in here, and there’s also an overflow pipe,” Isaacson said. “All of this is internal. Now it’s inside the water tank itself. So to get onto the top of the tank, we enter from the bottom, crawl up through, crawl up through the tank and get up on the top.”
Although the tower is now in place, there is still more work to be done.
“We’re waiting for the weather to warm up a little now so we can come back and finish it off,” Isaacson said. “They’re going to finish welding everything. The construction part of it will be completed by spring, and then it’ll just be the painting process that will take place after that.”
The final completion date is set for Aug. 15, although Isaacson said the city hopes the tower will be in use long before then.
“There’s electrical (work) to complete on it, some control work,” he said. “All of that should be done fairly quickly, so I would guess early summer.”
Once the new tower is in use, the city will have to figure out what will be done with the old tower.
Isaacson said he recently received an estimate of approximately $40,000 for demolition of a tower of similar size, which also would give scrapping rights to the contractor.