Merrill’s new water tank went online Thursday night after a three-year process of replacing the old, historic water tower that was built in 1947.
The new tank can hold twelve times the water the old tower could and is pressurized as opposed to the gravity-fed system of the old tower. The new system has improved residents’ water pressure in town and will also be beneficial for fighting fires. Mayor Bill Carlson said the better water pressure could also help residents’ insurance rates.
The $3 million project, $2 million of which was paid for by the city, included a new well, the new massive cylindrical tank and new piping that can handle the increased pressure.
Although Carlson said they originally planned to remove the old tower, they changed course when residents expressed interest in keeping it in place as the landmark it has been for decades.
“The original plan was to take down the old water tower. Everybody got together and talked and decided we wanted to keep it, so we’ll keep it as a historical monument,” Carlson said.
“You know, it’s Merrill,” Public Works Director Greg Matthews said of the old tower. “It’s a landmark.”
While the new system raised residents’ rates by $12 a month, Carlson and Matthews said they haven’t received much pushback from the community due to the better water quality and the need for a new system.
“I heard a lot of people, they’re already hooked up, just because, before we even got the pumps going, the size of the line that they put in, their water pressure went up immensely. I could see that at my house,” Matthews said.
The new tank is 56 feet tall and sits on the ground as opposed to the elevated tower of the old system. The new tank also holds 600,000 gallons of water compared to the old one’s 50,000 gallons.
While the new system is computerized, Matthews said the project includes a new generator that will kick on in the case of a power outage to ensure the water can run self-sufficiently.
Carlson said though the city could’ve continued to run on the old water tower, the old system would’ve continued to cost the city money in maintenance in the long run where the new tank should last for a long time to come.
“The alternative would’ve been to spend a million dollars in repairs over 20 years,” Carlson said.
Matthews said it was time to build a new system as the old system was aging.
“The old tank was built in ‘47, the old well was drilled in ‘61,” Matthews said. “So yeah, it was water quality, water pressure, it was just — it was time. And plus fire flow. If you take 50,000 gallons of water, it’s going to drain it just like that if you have a fire. So fire flow was a big issue.”
While Matthews said they’re monitoring leaking, especially with some older pipes still in…