Hillsboro opts to repair old water tower

The top two rings of Hillsboro?s small water tower will be replaced. Free Press file photo
The top two rings of Hillsboro?s small water tower will be replaced. Free Press file photo

The Hillsboro City Coun?cil agreed at its Aug. 18 meeting that the best option among several costly ones is to replace the top two 6-foot-tall steel rings of the small water tower for an additional cost of $91,800.

The council first heard about this most recent request for additional repairs to the 1927 smaller water tower during its Aug. 11 meeting.

City Administrator Paine said the repair contractor, Maguire Iron, had discovered that long-term exposure to chlorine gas had significantly deteriorated the steel thickness of two of the tower?s four rings.

The council decided Aug. 11 to table the issue one week to gather more information about alternate approaches, including the option of replacing the two deteriorating rings with only one new ring.

Don Heller, an engineer with EBH & Associates, told the council at the Aug. 18 meeting that replacing only one ring would cost the city $22,250 less than replacing both?but in the long run, replacing both rings would be the more cost-effective move.

Heller said adding one ring would make the small tower shorter than the city?s main tower, which would raise other system issues.

?It will give you two different (water) levels in the two towers because this (small) tower becomes shorter than the other tower,? he said. ?You can drop the level in the big tower (to rebalance the levels), but if you do that, you will lose over 100,000 gallons of storage, which is actually more than what the little tank holds.?

Heller said uneven water levels in the two towers would decrease water pressure within the system by about 2.5 pounds.

?(That) is probably not enough that anybody is going to notice,? he said, but Heller added if the city doesn?t want to lose storage capacity in the main tower, it would have to add a booster pump costing $25,000 to maintain water pressure at its current level.

?That eats up your savings by putting only one ring in, and it complicates the operation a lot more,? Heller said. ?Unless you?re willing to settle for losing the storage…it?s cheaper to go ahead and put both rings on this tower.?

Paine said less storage in the main tower would reduce the amount of water available for fire protection.

?That could affect our fire rating in terms of what folks actually pay for their insurance protection,? he said.

Unexpected problems

The original estimate to repair the small tower was $159,360. Because the tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city received a Heritage Grant of $103,000 to offset most of the expense.

But additional problems surfaced once work commenced. The first change order, approved July 21, to replace a leaking segment of steel increased the cost of the project to $197,340.

The additional $91,880 needed to replace the top two rings will raise the price tag for the city to $289,000, less the grant funding. Barring further discoveries, the city?s cost will be $186,000 instead of the original estimate of $56,360.

Heller said even if the additional issues had been known at the start of the project, he still would have recommended that the tower be fixed.

?The reason is you?ll never, ever buy storage for this kind of money,? he said. ?This is going to cost a little more than a third of what a new tower would cost.

?You put the two new rings on the top and a new roof on it, you?re going to have basically a new tower,? Heller added. ?When towers have trouble, it?s the top part because that?s where the chlorine gas (deteriorates steel thickness), and you have taken care of that.

?The result is you?re going to have a real good tower, and it?s going to serve you for many, many years. It will be a good asset for the water system.?

The council voted 3-0 to replace both rings. Coun?cilor David Loewen was absent from the meeting.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? approved the 2016 city budget, which will require a tax levy of 40.615 mills to generate $659,000 in property-tax revenue for city operations. The budget mill levy was 39.574 in 2015 and 40.001 in 2014.

? tabled for a second time making a decision about acquiring a different forklift for the water department. The council had asked at its previous meeting to see more than one bid.

Responding to that request, Paine presented four additional bids at this meeting. The council then asked him to gather warranty information from each bidder for comparison.

? approved a request from Parkside Homes to raze and remove a dilapidated house on its property, pending consent of the city?s bond counsel.

?There doesn?t appear to be any value left in the building and it is a blighting influence in the neighborhood,? Paine said.

Permission from the city was required because the house had been included in an industrial revenue bond issued to Parkside.

? was updated about the operation of the Kansas Power Pool by its executive director, Mark Chesney.