City to repair, maintain water towers

Published 3:46 pm Monday, February 9, 2015


The water tower on Independent Street is one of the five in Bainbridge in need of repairs. — Powell Cobb

Last week, the Bainbridge City Council approved a $1.1 million, 10-year contract with a water tank maintenance company to maintain and repair the city’s five water towers.

“The [Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources] recommends this to cities not only across Georgia, but across the United States,” said Sheldon Shelton, executive vice president of sales at American Tank Maintenance. “Over half the water systems in Georgia have maintenance programs. It gives you a much more proactive approach rather than a reactive approach, so we’re taking care of these tanks over time.”

The contract exceeds $1.1 million and will extend to 2024. The cost of maintenance for each tank varies due to their different statuses and maintenance needs.

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“We started this process back in October,” said Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby. “A 10-year maintenance contract is now the most financially sound thing you can do. It protects us. It follows EPD guidelines and recommendations, and what is now a recommendation will soon be a mandate. It’s just like having an insurance policy.”

The towers on Airport Road and Independent Street have corrosion on their exteriors and both require sandblasting and must be fully contained to keep debris at the work site, Shelton said.

The interiors of the tanks have some rust that needs to sandblasted, but the quality of the water is not affected, said utilities director Bo Ladner.

“You do have a little oxidation or rust,” Ladner said “because of the fact that we do inject chlorine and chloride into our system, and it’s going to cause rust. Rust is not going to heal itself. You have to go in there and mask it and sandblast it, prime it and paint it.”

Councilmembers were concerned about the cost of the service and whether or not there was money in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Shelton suggested ATM not bill the city until FY 2016, so the city can plan for the expenses.

“The fact that they’re willing to start work and not bill us until our new budget comes in tells you that they want a relationship and not just a paycheck,” Councilman Don Whaley said.