New water tower will be operational within next few days

The city’s new water tower on Gore Hill will be coming into service sometime between now and Monday.

The new 500,000-gallon tank was filled Thursday afternoon and once the disinfectant tests are completed, new tower will come on-line, Jim Rearden said Thursday evening.

Last fall, the City Commission approved a $2.4 million contract to Landmark Structures I, L.P. for the new tower.

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The new tank near the Crystal Inn at the I-15 junction replaces the tank that is basically in the parking lot of the Great Falls International Airport.

The relocation was recommended in a 2006 water master plan from TD&H and Black and Veatch Corporation to allow for a taller water tower and improving water pressure in the Gore Hill portion of the water distribution system. The height of the new water tower has been designed to the maximum height allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration and the overflow pipe will be 27 feet higher than the current elevation.

That tank had about 40 holes in it, causing a number of problems, including service disruptions, Rearden said.

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If and when a hole develops that cannot be plugged, the tower has to be taken off line and that portion of the water distribution system has to be pressurized by the Gore Hill Pump Station. That would cause power bills that are two to three times higher than normal and a loss of capacity in the system, according to Public Works.

Once the new tower is in service, the old tower will be isolated completely from the water distribution system but probably won’t be demolished until the spring, Rearden told The Electric.

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More site work and painting still needs to be completed at the new tower, but none of that work will affects its operational capability, Rearden said.

The city also had to modify the pumps at the associated pump station to handle the additional water pressure and that work has already been completed, he said.

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Last fall, commissioners approved the base bid for the project, but did not award an additive alternative for adding the city logo and lettering. At the time, staff recommended waiting until construction was complete to make that decision.

Rearden said the city has received three proposals with logo designs and cost estimates but any decision on awarding those contracts will have to get commission approval.

Commissioners authorized the purchase of property for the new tower in October 2016 and in February 2017, the FAA issued a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation for the tower with a maximum height of 3,830 feet above mean sea level at the proposed location.

In April 2017, City Commissioners approved annexation and PLI-Public Lands and Institutional zoning for the new property for the tower. In June 2017, commissioners approved a contract to extend a water main to the proposed water tower site. The Design Review Board considered the project in mid-August 2017 and recommended approval of the site layout and design.

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In March 2018, commissioners approved a $73,400 contract to Sletten Construction Company for the Gore Hill pump station pump replacement.

The project removed the existing 75 horsepower split case pump and installed a new 100 horsepower vertical turbine pump in the Gore Hill pump station.