Solon water tower to be drained, repainted

Residents may experience low water pressure during $110,000 project

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SOLON — Water pressure in Solon goes down Thursday as a fresh coat of paint — and artwork of the high school’s mascot — goes up on the city’s water tower.

It’s all part of a $110,000 project to refurbish the 34-year-old water tower, which was last painted 16 years ago, said Scott Kleppe, director of public works in Solon.

“The average life for a tower paint job is a minimum of 10 years,” Kleppe said. “We well exceeded that.”

Work began Monday and is expected to last four to six weeks. The tower’s 200,000 tank is to be drained beginning Thursday, which is to result in decreased water pressure for residents.

In response, city officials are asking residents to be mindful of water use during the project. While residents can still use city water for laundry, showering and other household uses, Kleppe said residents are prohibited from using water to do the following:

• Irrigate lawns, gardens or plants older than four years, or lay sod without Kleppe’s approval.

• Use more than 1 inch of water to irrigate gardens, athletic fields, trees and shrubs less than four years old. Also, watering cannot be done between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

• Wash cars, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks and exteriors of buildings.

• Fill swimming pools or outdoor ponds.

Kleppe said fines may be issued to property owners who don’t follow instructions after they receive an initial warning. He said anyone with questions should call him at (319) 631-5071.

“This isn’t the time to get the hose out and wash the house down,” Kleppe said. “Water use is going to designate the water pressure. We want to make sure everything’s adequate for people.”

Kleppe said city officials began to consider repainting the tower two years ago when they initiated plans for a 400,000-gallon underground water reservoir to meet the growing city’s increased water use. According to records, between 250,000 and 280,000 gallons of water is used each day in Solon, population 2,500. Though the underground reservoir project ran into setbacks, Kleppe said city officials wanted the tower to be repainted as soon as possible before rust spots worsened.

The city is putting up $100,000 for Elgin-based Central Iowa Tank Coatings to clean and repaint the 140-foot-tall tower that is now a bluish-white color with the word “Solon” painted in black. Rust spots sit like blemishes around the basin at the top of the tower and rust has eroded some area inside the tower as well.

The new paint color is “tank white” — white with a tinge of blue — which helps cut down on glare, officials said. The word “Solon” is to be painted in a new font in white over a black stripe surrounded by two, thin, orange stripes. Changing the font added $10,000 to the cost of the project.

A group of Solon residents is pitching in another $10,000 to add the Solon Spartan — the high school’s mascot — to the water tower. The group raised the money in a week.

Representing the school’s mascot and colors on the water tower helps to brand the city, Kleppe said. “The community is actually formed around the school system. That’s the glue that holds the town together.”

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