New water tower in operation

The water tower at the corner of Newton Avenue and Fountain Street is making a big impact on the community, changing its skyline for decades. The new tower, replacing one built in 1938, holds 1 million gallons of water and cost $7 million. At 200 feet tall – 20 stories – it stands about 65 feet higher than the original tower.

Designed by Bolton & Menk engineering, Phoenix Fabricators built the tower.

The crews started by laying a sound foundation to support the structure, which will weigh a total of 9.24 million pounds or 4,620 tons when filled with water:

    • Crews pounded 53 steel piles (pipes) 84 – 96 feet into the ground.
    • Each pile is 12 inches in diameter and filled with concrete, with a total of 300 yards of concrete used.
    • Each pile is designed to support 200 tons of weight.

Next came the base ring:

    • Crews used 11 tons of steel reinforcing-bar in the base ring along with 200 yards of concrete, plus 20 yards of concrete in the floor.

Then they started welding together massive pieces of steel to form the base and tank:

    • More than 400 pieces of steel will make up the tower.
    • The thickness of the steel varies from 5/16 – 1.75 inches.
    • The steel totals 851,422 pounds or 425.7 tons.

Crews have used different cranes for the project, including a remote-control crane on top the tower, to lift pieces into place for welding.

The welding supplies included:

    • 3,700 pounds of wire.
    • 1,000 pounds of welding rod.

Inside the tower are:

    • A ladder to access the tank.
    • Piping and controls for filling with and dispensing water.
    • An insulated mechanical room with electrical service and valving.

BRZ Coatings of Watauga, Texas, applied three coats of paint to the interior and four coats to the exterior. In total, the painters used 1,023 gallons of product:

    • 190 gallons of zinc primer
    • 90 gallons of beige epoxy
    • 190 gallons of white epoxy
    • 140 gallons of polyurethane
    • 103 gallons of fluoropolymer
    • 110 gallons of thinner

As of Sept. 27, the city had filled the water tower, disinfected the water and tested it to make sure the water meets Minnesota Department of Health standards. The 1-million-gallon capacity will help the city meet a federal requirement of holding enough water for 1 day of use in case of system disruptions. The city maintains 5 water towers and uses an average of 3.5 million gallons of water a day. The new water tower was also needed for fire protection and economic development.

Click to see amazing drone footage of crews building the tower.

Crews welded the base of the tower into place and then the center structure, which was set in place in two pieces.

Once the central structure was in place, the bottom of the tank was set and welded into place. See the construction video above for more detail.

Albert Lea shines every night, thanks to lights on the new downtown water tower.

Lights are located on the east and west sides of the tower, putting a spotlight on Albert Lea.