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Ottertail water tower slated for checkup

An aging water tower will soon be attended to in Ottertail city.

Chris McConn, an environmental engineer with Interstate Engineering, brought up the issue of routine water tower inspections to the city council at the May 15 Ottertail City Council meeting. McConn prepared a list of recommendations for the routine tank inspections of the city's water tower.

The list was compiled after city coordinator Lee Sherman requested information on what should be accomplished by whomever the city hires to inspect the tower. "

Are we approaching the time when we should do something?" Sherman asked McConn during the meeting.

McConn said that now would be a good time for the city to have an inspector look at the water tower. "If everything turns up good and clear, then you could wait another five years before checking it again," he advised.

"There are other things unrelated to the softness of the water and the cleanliness inside," McConn said of the tank inspection. He informed council members of other problems such as corrosion or ice build-up that the city should be careful to watch for.

Parts of the tower that a tank inspector should examine include: visible portions of foundation, structural steel, the welds, the interior and exterior of the storage tank, the paint, and the working components of the water tower. Tanks can be drained and washed out with a low volume, moderate pressure (2,400 psi) pump.

The cost for hiring someone to inspect the water tower was also considered. McConn said he believes the city of Ottertail may face significantly lower inspection costs than some cities, because the city's water tower could be drained. This way, the inspections could be done without the added cost of hiring divers.

It is likely that the city of Henning would be able to support Ottertail's water needs during such an inspection. With the city of Ottertail currently receiving their water from Henning, the Ottertail tower could be drained, with enough water still available in the event of an emergency.

Council members discussed the importance of communicating with Henning about the inspection date, to ensure enough water would be available if the fire department needed it.

Councilman Terry Wagenman suggested looking into what other cities are doing as far as inspections go. The city will also check with Henning to see what they do, seeing as the cities use the same water.

"We can budget it [the inspection] for next year," said city clerk / treasurer Linda Bjelland, "but we should start looking at estimates now."