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$2 million tower project on track for October completion

Project engineer Chris Thorson stands in front of the new Perham water tower, which is expected to be completed this October.1 / 2
This photo, taken by Chris Thorson before the steel tank was placed on top of the concrete column, shows the interior of the new water tower.2 / 2

Right now, the city of Perham is facing some severe water shortage issues. Chris Thorson explains, "They're over capacity now. In 2007, the city used an average of 1.1 million gallons of water a day."

Thorson is the project engineer who is overseeing the construction of a new Perham water tower, which is being built to help increase the city's water capacity to meet the current demand. Thorson is an engineer with Ulteig Engineering, based out of Detroit Lakes.

With the new water tower's capacity right at one million gallons, it wouldn't be able to single-handedly provide for Perham's water needs. The city's existing water tower, located next to Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, will continue to be used.

The old tower, built in the late '70's, holds approximately .5 million gallons, which, when combined with the new tower, will give the city a new capacity of 1.5 million gallons. The two towers will be similar in appearance, with plans for the new tower to be painted the same bluish color as the existing tower. They will both feature the same logo.

According to Thorson, the new tower will be equipped with an obstruction light visible to aircraft and will also include lightning protection. The final structure height of the tower will be 145 feet.

As it stands right now, the new water tower is incomplete. A doomed roof will soon be added onto the top of the existing structure, adding an additional 10 feet in height.

The new tower is a different style from the existing water tower, which is composed entirely of steel. The new water tower is a "composite elevated tank." Thorson explains, "Composite means it's made out of concrete, with a steel tank above."

The purpose behind using both concrete and steel is the ease of maintenance. The concrete column will remain as it is now, and only the top steel tank will need to be painted. "Concrete bases are becoming more normal with a structure of this size," Thorson says.

He estimates the lifespan of the new water tower to be anywhere from 70 to 100 years. The project cost is $2,155,000. The firm that won the bid to build the tower is CB&I, Inc. from Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Water supply to the tower is fed by a 12 inch watermain from the adjacent wellhouse. Two new wells were added to the well site in 2008 for a total of three wells supplying the adjacent wellhouse.

Thorson reports that the city of Perham now has a total of seven wells for supply to the water system. The new water tower supplies the city's water system via a 16 inch watermain.