Getting to the top of the Bainbridge water tower was hard enough. The hydraulic lift used by Phoenix Fabricators to scale the tower to the bottom of the tank couldn't get workers to the top of the tank about 140 feet up. I watched as foreman Dean Gerber attached his lanyard to a safety rope and stood on the railing of the hydraulic platform. Then he walked along the railing to another ladder hanging just within reach. But instead Gerber used some nearby ropes as footstools to climb to the service platform around the tank.
The ladder was for me.
The pressure of gravity from the 150,000-gallon tank downward was enough to create the water pressure that would flow through the town, but the tank is empty now, receiving its second coat of paint inside and out.
"Water pressure fluctuates," said Jim Nelson, utilities superintendent. "It stays well in stable ranges."
When it's all said and done, the new improvements will keep the water facilities more efficient and even improve the quality a little bit. Most of all it keeps the price of the water utilities cheap for Bainbridge residents and reduces the cost of electricity and maintenance for the town.
While important information, this didn't help encourage me to swing my legs on top of the railing of the platform and climb up the skinny eight-step ladder. After some encouragement and a few jokes about the first-time climber from the workman above, I was able to climb up, all without dropping my camera. This included the Flip video camera from the office.
"We're going to be movie stars," Gerber said, telling each workman who crossed the line of the Flip's sight that they were the next big movie star.
As I was finishing up on top of the tower, Graves Plumbing came to the water treatment plant to pour the concrete for the 12' by 14' addition to the building that would house the new pumps and equipment. The third part of the project, involving the pumps and computer systems themselves, hasn't been started yet.
The project grand total is $859,168, but it is mostly paid for by an Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant of $917,500.
I decided to take the second route on the way down -- a long ladder that stretched from the railing all the way down to the ground. I attached my lanyard to the O-shaped safety latch and started to climb down.
The trip down was a lot longer than I thought it would be. I didn't beat the hydraulic lift, especially after the safety latch snagged after every pull. But I did get some rope burn as a souvenir.