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Willmar Avenue water tower gets new paint job

WILLMAR — Driving on Willmar Avenue, just west of Seventh Street, motorists can see one of Willmar's three water towers, which has periodically been under a large shroud for about the past month.

The curtain is covering crews who are hard at work sandblasting and repainting both the inside and outside of the water tower. The steel tower needs fresh coats of paint to protect it against air and moisture which are damaging to the steel. The crews have been there for about a month and will likely be there for at least another month, depending on weather conditions.

Funding for the project is part of a 10-year contract the city has with a company called Utility Service Group, which also includes maintenance of the water tower. In total, the contract cost the city about a half-million dollars. The Willmar City Council approved the contract in July 2016.

"The tank was built in the mid-'50s," said Joel Braegelman, water and heating supervisor with the Willmar Public Utilities. "It will last a long time, provided the steel doesn't come in contact with air and the water inside."

Observers will see the crews are not done removing the previous paint job, but have already started painting the areas where they have removed the paint. This is the primer coat which will protect the surface of the tower while they continue removing paint.

The crews will also be installing a mixer inside the tower to prevent the water from freezing in the winter, and a collar at the base of the bowl where the water is stored to reinforce it after some 60 years of stress.

The Willmar Avenue water tower is one of three towers connected to the city's water main system. The city uses the towers to regulate and measure how much water is in the system at one time. They help the city determine when they need to pump more water in and how much.

The water tower's new coat of paint will only be different from the previous coat in one way.

"This one gets an updated cardinal," Braegelman said, referring to Willmar High School's mascot which is proudly displayed on all of the water towers. "It's the new cardinal that the school district uses."

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