Water tower near Robinson Street to get face lift

By Carol Cole

Transcript Staff Writer

What is 135 feet high, 50 feet across and takes about 300 gallons to paint its face?

That would be the City of Norman's Robinson Street water tower, soon to get a long overdue face lift at U.S. 77. The half-million-gallon tower was built in the early '50s along with the Lindsey Street tower.

TMI Coatings of St. Paul, Minn., is the contractor, with the $400,000 paint job expected to take about four months.

The old tank has several coats of paint, but it's time to take it all off, said Ken Komiske, Norman utilities director. "It's something we needed to be doing and put off a couple years longer than we probably should have."

First will be applying about 300 gallons of pre-tox to bind up the old lead paint so it's safe to work.

"I believe they have to put a big cover over it, like a circus tent," Komiske said.

Workers will sandblast off the layers of old paint, which will take about 160 tons of sand abrasives for the interior and exterior.

"Just like shingling your roof, you can only paint over it so many times and eventually you have to take the paint off. You can't just keep adding and adding and adding and adding," he said.

The exterior will take about 100 gallons of primer coat, 100 gallons of intermediate coat and about 100 gallons of finish coat.

"These are all specialized paints so they can make sure they stand up to weather," Komiske said.

The interior will take about 200 gallons total, because the interior of the tower's legs are not painted.

The tank is empty and the fire and police departments have been notified.

"Especially in the wintertime when demand is low, that tank is out of service now, but the fire department still has plenty of water to fight fires in the area, so people shouldn't be concerned that the tank is out of service," Komiske said.

Lights that shine up on the bottom of the tank also will be fixed.

The tank should last indefinitely if properly taken care of, Komiske said.

The city has five towers now, with the newest a 2-million-gallon tank on 36th Avenue NW built in 1999.

"If you take care of them, obviously they should be able to last. Obviously, this one is more than 50 years old now," he said. "How long does a house last if you take care of it?"

The city will plan to paint one tank a year for the next five years if the voters pass the proposed water rate increase.

Carol Cole 366-3538 ccole@normantranscript.com

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