CREATING A NEW LANDMARK
A new Blooming Prairie landmark should be ready by Jan. 1, 2025, when the city unveils a 154-foot-tall, sphere-shaped water tower.
The old cone-shaped, silver tower will be history by that time; its construction may have gone back to the early 1900s.
“There’s no record, but the best guess is 1907,” said Jerry Mausbach, Blooming Prairie Utilities manager.
Many of the water towers of yesteryear were built with the same cookie-cutter cone shape, Mausbach said.
Opposition to removal
There was opposition to taking down the old tower, but cooler heads prevailed due to the projected high costs. Mausbach said it would cost almost as much to repair the old tower as it would to build a new one.
“We gave people advance notice that a new tower was needed,” he said.
The old tower is covered with lead paint and that would need to be removed before any repairs were made.
Mausbach has been doing research on replacing the old water tower during his seven years as utilities manager. He has logged 27 years in utilities work, coming to Blooming Prairie from Worthington, where he was operations manager of utilities.
The Blooming Prairie Utilities Commission approved the winning $1.3 million construction bid submitted by Maguire Iron, Inc., of Sioux Falls. The only other bid received was from Caldwell Inc. of Louisville, Ky. The BP Public Utilities Commission of Dennis Heimermann, Amy Doerhoefer, and Mike Ressler approved the water tower bid.
Prior to construction, a ground water storage tank must be constructed, with a capacity of 200,000 gallons. Wapasha Construction Company of Winona took the bid on the ground water tank. Pete Steffen is superintendent on the project.
15 feet taller
The current water tower has a capacity of 65,000 gallons. The new tower will hold 100,000 gallons. The spheroid tower will be 15 feet taller than the current tower, said Mausbach, and will be able to handle Blooming Prairie’s growth.
The tower will have a pressure regulator that will provide expanded water pressure that will improve homeowners’ fire rating. Mausbach said it was rumored that the city was close to running out of water when firefighters fought the BP Bakery fire in 2019.
“That was not true; we were a long ways from being out of water,” Mausbach said.
Construction on the cylindrical, concrete storage tank, which will be the base of the new water tower, began last October.
“The tank will go 20 feet deep, and we will only see two feet above ground,” said Mausbach.
The outer walls have been poured. Next, the roof will be set, and the area will be back filled, said Wapasha Construction job superintendent Steffen. He added that the job must be completed by next summer. The ground tank will then be sealed.
Wapasha is on schedule with the storage tank, Steffen said.
New tower by ‘25
Water tower construction will begin just after the first of 2024, maybe in March, Mausbach said. “By Jan. 1, 2025, we should have a band new water tower,” he said. “We won’t see another tower for 100 years. It will serve the community for many a moon.”
The new BP water tower will be very colorful with the city’s new logo, flowers on both sides. A committee of Marcie Sundine, H. Peterson, Greg Johnson, Willie Olson, and Mary Kittelson judged the Create a Water Tower Logo Contest. Winning designer was Carol Iverson.
More utility news revolves around the purchase of a new city engine that generates two additional megawatts. The engine passed the surge test and “is pretty well done,” Mausbach said. Blooming Prairie Public Utilities staff did all of the electrical work.
Mausbach explained the need for these improvements: “Planning for the future is important to provide cost effective and reliable services for the future.”
Blooming Prairie is a member of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Association (SMMPA).
Public Utilities will take the tower down. The new tower will be located at 135 2nd Ave. SE.