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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bainbridge water project a tall order

Friday, July 29, 2011

In the above picture, Dean Gerber, foreman of the Bainbridge water tower construction project from Phoenix Fabricators, stands with fellow workman James Lollie over the small ladder that can be used to reach the walkway along the side of the water tank. The tower is almost done after about of month of extensive work to remodel the tower, which has received virtually no major updates since it was first built in 1979. The finished water tower, along with the remodeled treatment plant and machines, will make the water utilities more efficient in the future. All three parts of the project will cost $859,168, with each part being handled by a different company. [Order this photo]
BAINBRIDGE -- It was a lot easier going up than coming down.

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.

Gerber looks over the railing across Bainbridge.
The Bainbridge water tower, along with the water treatment plant, was built in 1979, and it has received little work since. While the exterior of the tower was repainted in 1994, the inside has remained the same and the pumps used at the treatment building just next door are also the same.

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.

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