Brazil Planning Administrator Michele Griffin met Friday morning with Brazil Water Supervisor Jake Raubuch and City Engineer Brian Pohlar of Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering to discuss rehabilitation possibilities for the tower and consideration for building a new water tower altogether.
"We initially started looking into the rehabilitation of the tank in the tower with (former mayor) Tom Arthur," Pohlar said. "We didn't do anything at the time because the tank would have been out of commission for about three months."
Raubach agrees that something needs to be done with the tower and tanks in order to improve the city's water loss ratio.
"Right now, the loss ratio is in the range of 40-50 percent in the distribution line, and we need to curb this to get it back down to the norm of 15-20 percent," Raubuch said. "To take the tank offline could also cost us our fire protection, so we have also been thinking about building a new tank to put in while the current one is being fixed. That way, we would have two to switch out if need be."
Raubach also explained that water loss comes from numerous sources such as pipe leaks, non-metered areas and meters which need to be re-calibrated.
The city re-calibrates meters every few years in residential areas and every two years for large and wholesale customers, like Knightsville, who purchases the water usage from Brazil and creates its own bills for its residents.
To help raise funds for the tower, the city has initiated a random income survey of all Brazil Water customers in order to try to become eligible for Community Focus Fund Grants.
"However, if the city gets a grant and chooses to use it on the water tower, it could not be used for the rehabilitation, it would have to be used for a new water tower," Pohlar said.
"That being said, it is still important for the residents to complete the survey because the city can become eligible for all sorts of grants, not just to be used within the water department."
While the cost of rehabilitating the tower is nearly as much as building a new one, it could alleviate further problems down the road.
"There are a couple locations which could be used to build a new tower, but we have not approached landowners about availability of the land," Pohlar said.
"Also, with the current tower being directly hooked up to the Water Treatment Plant, we might have to do major pipe upgrades in order to get a new water tower hooked up to the plant."
The current tower was built in 1956, and routine maintenance has gone by the wayside over the years.
"Typically, water towers are re-painted every 10-15 years, but ours has not been painted for 30-40," Griffin said. "There are still ads for businesses that are no longer here on it."
Raubuch added the Water Department is also looking into replacing water lines instead of just patching them.
"The costs are turning out to be about even," he said. "The acidic soil in the area has been slowly tearing up the galvanized pipes and we have slowly been replacing them with PVC lines."
For the city, which pumps about 2,000,000 gallons of water a day, they know it will take some time to do things right for the best solution.
"It didn't get this way overnight, and we won't be able to fix it overnight either," Raubuch said.