Water Tower Refurbishment Part 1: Cycle-Stop Valve Sets the Stage

July 11, 2015

In this first story on water tower refurbishment, the author covers the steps a town took to prepare the water tower for refurbishment and the considerations the town faced with the project.  In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life.

What do you do when you’re a one-water-tower town, struggling on a shoestring budget and a routine inspection by state officials hands you a report card of multiple, and expensive, repair violations. You’ve got a water tower refurbishment project on your hands.

Donald Buchanan, town administrator of Hooks, TX, a community of about 4,000 located fifteen miles west of Texarkana on the Arkansas border in northeast Texas, describes his dilemma.

“We have a water tower inspection every year and we got handed a list of things to fix. Fortunately, we had passed a bond issue to do water and street repairs, but the problem with the water tower was a big one.”

In this first story on water tower refurbishment, the author covers the steps a town took to prepare the water tower for refurbishment and the considerations the town faced with the project.  In Part 2 of this article, we'll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life. What do you do when you’re a one-water-tower town, struggling on a shoestring budget and a routine inspection by state officials hands you a report card of multiple, and expensive, repair violations. You've got a water tower refurbishment project on your hands. Donald Buchanan, town administrator of Hooks, TX, a community of about 4,000 located fifteen miles west of Texarkana on the Arkansas border in northeast Texas, describes his dilemma. “We have a water tower inspection every year and we got handed a list of things to fix. Fortunately, we had passed a bond issue to do water and street repairs, but the problem with the water tower was a big one.” [text_ad] Buchanan says it’s likely that “nobody had been inside the water tower since the day it was built in 1968,” but that now, there were cracks and deterioration and the needed repairs would cost the town a hefty bill in citations if left undone. “Since we only have one water tower, we had to figure out how to deliver water to our people, and still fix the water tower. We can’t turn off water for the three to six months that we needed to do the repairs. The one idea was to put a pump on and then divert the water to a tank, but have it attached to a fire hydrant where a pop-off valve would release pressure when it got too high.” But this was not a good solution, Buchanan says, “because if we did that, we would lose about $30,000 of water. We have to buy our water from Texarkana and can’t afford to waste it.” Buchanan says their engineer then heard about what is called a cycle-stop valve, from Russell Hicks of Induron Protective Lining and Coatings, the company whose coatings allowed for a very successful water tower repair. Hicks explains the scenario the town faced at the outset. “Small town funds are tight and when you take a tank out of service to rehab, it’s a big production.” Hicks says the town had last rehabbed the 300,000 gallon pedesphere tank back in the 1970s so a major facelift was in order. How to Keep the Water On “What we were going to do involved a complete removal of all coatings, then blast it to white metal on the outside, and then blast the inside as well. Then, coat the inside and outside with primer and finish coats. But, before we did anything we had to figure out how to divert the water and provide service. I had run across this variable-frequency device (VFD) called a cycle-stop valve which actually works so well you don’t even need a water tower.” Hicks says he brought the innovative technology to Kiron Browning of A.L. Franks Engineering who was already working on the project, and Browning introduced the idea to Buchanan and his staff. Beyond the concern for continuous public drinking water supply, the town and engineers also required that there would be enough water for fire suppression during the rehab time. Hicks describes why the cycle-stop valves were the perfect solution to ensure all water needs would be met. “I explained that typically, when you use other VFDs to supply water to the end-user without the use of gravity—like in a water tower—these devices can’t manage pressure changes that well, and this can cause water hammer, and blow out pipes. This cycle-stop valve is a continuously regulating device that prevents this. So we installed two of them for the aboveground water holding tank. This diverting process not only saved water, but worked so well nobody in the town knew there was anything different going on with their water delivery.” Hicks says these valves, which continuously regulate pressure and amperage, were under $11,000 to purchase and install. They not only allowed work to begin, but saved hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and up to $40,000 in water waste costs. In Part 2 of this article on water tower refurbishment, we'll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life. 

Buchanan says it’s likely that “nobody had been inside the water tower since the day it was built in 1968,” but that now, there were cracks and deterioration and the needed repairs would cost the town a hefty bill in citations if left undone.

“Since we only have one water tower, we had to figure out how to deliver water to our people, and still fix the water tower. We can’t turn off water for the three to six months that we needed to do the repairs. The one idea was to put a pump on and then divert the water to a tank, but have it attached to a fire hydrant where a pop-off valve would release pressure when it got too high.”

But this was not a good solution, Buchanan says, “because if we did that, we would lose about $30,000 of water. We have to buy our water from Texarkana and can’t afford to waste it.”

Buchanan says their engineer then heard about what is called a cycle-stop valve, from Russell Hicks of Induron Protective Lining and Coatings, the company whose coatings allowed for a very successful water tower repair. Hicks explains the scenario the town faced at the outset.

“Small town funds are tight and when you take a tank out of service to rehab, it’s a big production.”

Hicks says the town had last rehabbed the 300,000 gallon pedesphere tank back in the 1970s so a major facelift was in order.

How to Keep the Water On
“What we were going to do involved a complete removal of all coatings, then blast it to white metal on the outside, and then blast the inside as well. Then, coat the inside and outside with primer and finish coats. But, before we did anything we had to figure out how to divert the water and provide service. I had run across this variable-frequency device (VFD) called a cycle-stop valve which actually works so well you don’t even need a water tower.”

Hicks says he brought the innovative technology to Kiron Browning of A.L. Franks Engineering who was already working on the project, and Browning introduced the idea to Buchanan and his staff. Beyond the concern for continuous public drinking water supply, the town and engineers also required that there would be enough water for fire suppression during the rehab time. Hicks describes why the cycle-stop valves were the perfect solution to ensure all water needs would be met.

“I explained that typically, when you use other VFDs to supply water to the end-user without the use of gravity—like in a water tower—these devices can’t manage pressure changes that well, and this can cause water hammer, and blow out pipes. This cycle-stop valve is a continuously regulating device that prevents this. So we installed two of them for the aboveground water holding tank. This diverting process not only saved water, but worked so well nobody in the town knew there was anything different going on with their water delivery.”

Hicks says these valves, which continuously regulate pressure and amperage, were under $11,000 to purchase and install. They not only allowed work to begin, but saved hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and up to $40,000 in water waste costs.

In Part 2 of this article on water tower refurbishment, we’ll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life. 
About the Author

Barbara Hesselgrave

Barbara Hesselgrave is a writer specializing in environmental topics.

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