Fairfield expected to spend $600K to rehab water tower

Fairfield Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim said he was nervous after opening the first of 13 bids to rehabilitate the Seward Road water tower.

The first proposal came in at $1.27 million, about double what he expected. But it turned out there was “a huge spread” of bids, including the projected winning bid of $516,000 from L&T Painting Co.

City Council will be asked Monday to approve a $600,000 contract, which includes contingencies and replacement of a 20-inch water fill-pipe that goes from the bottom of the tank to the top, said Sackenheim.

“The biggest reason we paint these towers is to ensure the structural integrity of the steel and the coating that’s on the inside of the tank,” said Sackenheim. “That’s the most important part.”

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The city has a schedule to paint its water tanks about once every two decades because they can, if properly maintained, last more than 100 years. The 1.5-million gallon Seward Road tank was installed in 1997 and 1998.

L&T Painting will sandblast the interior of the tank down to the bare steel, which will remove any rust or signs of corrosion, then recoat the interior, according to the contract. The exterior of the tank will be high-pressure washed, and an overcoat of paint will be applied. Then the city’s new branding, which will be unveiled on March 9, will be painted on the tank.

Sackenheim was surprised by the number of bidders, calling it “a little bit unusual,” but he believes it happened because of the early bid process. Bids went out in early January, and bidders were given the option to do the project in the spring or fall. A start date has yet to be determined.

In conjunction with the tank repainting, a submersible mixer will be installed by city staff. It will be the third water tank to have a mixer installed to “keep that water fresh and keep that chlorine residual high in the water,” Sackenheim said. This project, which is funded separately from the tower repainting, will cost an estimated $15,000.

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Taking the water tank offline for up to three months should not have an impact on any of the water customers serviced by the Seward tower, which is the biggest segment of water users in the city because it services Fairfield’s industrial area, Sackenheim said.

“The goal is zero impact,” he said. “Because we have the smaller tower right next to it, which we’ll keep in service, we have a half million gallons of water in storage in that zone. Our customers should not notice a difference in service.”

More water will be pumped to the smaller, 500,000-gallon water tank during the rehabilitation, Sackenheim said.

Koch Foods on Port Union Road is the city’s largest water user, according to the city, and is serviced by the Seward tower.

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