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Mitchell's west water tower to undergo roughly $1.1 million in improvements, including new exterior paint job

Potential paint job to interior of water tower sparks concerns from Mitchell resident, but city officials say special paint is safe

Shown here is the west water tower in Mitchell along the Highway 37 bypass that crews will be repainting in cream color, along with making improvements to the tower's piping.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — An aging Mitchell water tower will be getting a facelift in the near future after the Mitchell City Council approved awarding bids for the project.

According to Public Works Director Joe Schroeder, the scope of the $1.1 million project will entail repainting the city's west water tower along the Highway 37 bypass and making improvements to the piping, along with replacing the valve on the water tower. Schroeder said the improvements will add about 10 to 15 years of the water tower’s life expectancy.

“With the full coat of paint, it would be roughly 30 years until we have to repaint it,” Schroeder said during Monday’s City Council meeting. “We gave them the opportunity to paint it next year as well.”

For the painting portion of the project, crews will paint the entire exterior of the blue tower with a new cream color paint and place the city’s logo atop, similar to the south side water tower near Interstate 90. Schroeder said the interior of the water tower could also be painted, depending on whether an investigation determines the underground piping that connects to the water tower is in need of replacing.

Mitchell water tower.jpg
Shown here is the top of the city of Mitchell's water tower on the south side of Mitchell. The west water tower will be painted with a similar color and welcome the city's logo.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Painting the interior of the water tower sparked some concerns for a Mitchell resident, who asked the council what type of effect interior paint could have on the water that is stored in the tower.


Dwight Stadler, of Mitchell, pressed the council on whether the interior paint could seep into the water stored in the tower and cause health hazards.

“I have no clue what happens inside of the water tower. But when you’re saying painting, I’m picturing paint flowing into the water,” Stadler said at Monday’s council meeting.

According to Schroeder, the interior paint is a “special paint” made solely for interior portions of water towers. Schroeder said the interior paint is a Tnemec brand paint, which is commonly used for steel and concrete surfaces to protect them from corrosion.

Schroeder noted the water tower would be dry when crews apply the Tnemec paint along the inside of the tower. Mayor Bob Everson added that the interior paint prevents the steel from rusting, which could affect the water in the tower.

The council approved Maguire Iron’s $354,200 bid for the first phase of the project during Monday’s meeting, which will entail painting the entire exterior of the water tower and making improvements to some of the piping on the interior of the tower.

For the second and final phase of the project, the council approved H&W Contracting’s bid that came in at a little under $675,000. The second phase primarily entails replacing the valve and piping on the exterior of the water tower.

It’s very difficult to isolate this tower, and we have to go multiple blocks in order to isolate it. This project will fix that problem,” Schroeder said during an October council meeting.

Schroeder noted there could be a possibility that the city does not need to make any improvements to the exposed piping of the water tower, which could reduce the cost of the overall project by about $205,000.


“There may be a possibility for a large cost savings if we are able to eliminate schedule B1, and that’s dependent on what the condition of the underground pipe is in that connects the water tower. It could be great, or it could be falling apart,” Schroeder said, noting further investigation into the underground pipe will determine whether improvements need to be made to the pipe.

If the investigation determines that the underground piping does not need to be replaced, Schroeder said it would allow the city to explore the option of painting the entire interior of the water tower.

With the supply chain issues that have been stalling city projects, council member Kevin McCardle asked whether the contractors have the paint to complete the project. Schroeder confirmed the contractors have the paint.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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