Out of date system too costly to repair
By Chris Fish
MELBOURNE - Two water towers used for the public water system, as well as antennas for communication systems will be demolished in Brevard County.
"It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain these towers," said Alison Dawley, assistant city attorney for Melbourne. "This year, we have to bring the water towers up to government regulation. It costs too much."
The two water towers are located off Palm Avenue in Indialantic and off Oak Street in Melbourne.
Ms. Dawley said simple maintenance for the tower, located in Indialantic alone, is far too costly for taxpayers.
"The water tower needs to be painted every 10 years. It costs $250,000 just to paint it," she said. "To operate the one tower is $158,000. You also have to dump the water once in a while, and you can't leave it empty because that would be dangerous in a storm. At the end of the day, it costs us about $400,000 to maintain and operate the tower."
Ralph Reigelsperger, the city of Melbourne's public works and utilities director, said the towers have been in use for decades but are now unable to meet current water pressure requirements.
"They are functionally obsolete. So much pressure equates to so much elevation in height," he said. "At least one of the two tanks has been raised once to maintain an operational pressure."
Mr. Reigelsperger said that, if the dated tanks maintained reached the level of pressure actually needed to accommodate the demand of water, they could explode.
"They are currently operating above what their (pressure) levels are," he said. "If the valves were all the way open, we would be blowing water out of the top."
Along with the demolition of the two water towers, antenna systems leased to radio stations and cell phone companies will be taken down.
"All of the parties have been advised to vacate," Ms. Dawley said. "Currently, AT&T, T-Mobile and Brevard Youth Education Broadcasting Corporation use the water towers for their antennas."
WGRV The Groove, a non profit public radio station, currently leases one of the antennas to stream its station.
According to its website, The Groove needed to raise $15,000 to relocate to a new tower location by July 31. So far, the station has raised 90 percent of their intended goal.
The Groove could not be reached for comment.
Ms. Dawley said she isn't sure where The Groove is planning on moving, and negotiations with a company to build an actual antenna tower fell through.
"We were hoping we would be able to transition the antennas to a real antenna tower. We tried to talk to the company that could do this, but it didn't work out," she said. "It's a little unfortunate (The Groove has to vacate). They are a great part of the community."
Mr. Reigelsperger said the demolition of the two water towers coincides with the county's switch to a new water regulation system that can properly handle the pressure needed with the county's growing demand for water.
"It's easier to deviate operating system parameters with a ground storage tank," he said. "These elevated tanks have been around so long, and the demand of water (from the county),(the need of water for)fire protection and the increase in pressure leads to the tanks actually having to be picked up and raised and legs being put on the bottom to maintain the operating pressure."
Mr. Reigelsperger said the two water towers do not delegate water to a specific area.
"They are all part of the system. There is no specific area (the water goes to)," he said. "It's based on how many pipes and how many customers you have. (Depending on the demand) that water goes to the tank and fills them up."
According to the city's Public Works Department, the tower's antenna structures are scheduled to be removed by the end of this month.
Then, the department will search for a company to dismantle the tanks before the end of the year.