Officials eye water tank painting project

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An “unfunded mandate” is requiring Brookhaven to freshen morethan just the water. The Environmental Protection Agency is askingthe city to apply a new coat of paint to three of the city’s watertanks.

The city will need to paint the inside and outside of the IngramStreet water tank, the water tank on South First Street and theIndustrial Park Road water tank for preventative maintenance.Collectively, the three tanks hold 1 million gallons ofwater.

While the EPA is not dictating a timeline, city officials submitteda plan last week to repaint the water towers. The submittedproposal, which is still awaiting approval, states the tank onSouth First Street would be painted in the summer of 2012, theIngram water tank would be painted in the summer of 2013 and theIndustrial Park Road tank, which holds 500,000 gallons of water,would be painted in the summer of 2014.

Mayor Les Bumgarner said he thinks the EPA will approve the planand the city should hear back from the agency within a month.

“I think they are in good enough shape to last that long,” saidBumgarner.

Bumgarner added that it would cost roughly $140,000 to paint theinside and outside of the South First Street water tank and another$140,000 to paint the Ingram water tank, each of which holds250,000 gallons of water. It would cost about $210,000 to coat themassive container that is the Industrial Park Road watertank.

“Unfortunately, it seems more and more we have unfunded mandates,and it’s tough on the taxpayers,” said Bumgarner.

Bumgarner said the city will dip into the water/sewer funds to payfor the estimated $500,000 project.

The mayor said beginning this year the city has been putting about25 cents from monthly water bills into a reserve fund to help payfor the painting project. The other possible ways to fund theproject include increasing rates for those tapping into the city’swater and the use of bonds.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the rates as low aspossible,” said Bumgarner. “Our rates, we think, are pretty lowcompared to other towns our size in the state.”

Bumgarner added that, by law, the money that is earned through theratepayers has to go back to the water system.

“The water rates are not a money-making proposition,” saidBumgarner. “The goal is to keep the water systemoperational.”

Painting one tank at a time would make sure that no one benefitingfrom the city’s water would lose pressure or availability.Bumgarner said each tank would take about a month to paint.

The mayor also said he was uncertain of what might go on theoutside of each tank. However, the tall towers could act as a giantbillboard for Homeseekers Paradise.

“We’d like to fix them up so they look nice for a long period oftime; you don’t paint them that often,” said Bumgarner. “It’lldefinitely have Brookhaven on it, and if we can get a littlesomething extra on it without much (more) cost – we’ll do it.”