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The changing landscape: How Tea’s newest water tower came together

Tea’s newest water tower, located along the interstate on the northeast end of town, is scheduled to come online in September.

The city approved the building of a new 750,000-gallon tank a year ago. The first step in the project was the building of the pump house. After the pump house went up, Maguire Iron, a water tower company based in Sioux Falls that got its start in 1915, started work on the tower.

Brian Cooper, Maguire Iron’s director of marketing and business development, said they have four different crews work on the tower itself. They start with a four-person crew working on the concrete foundation. Once they have fabricated all of the steel in their 60,000-square foot fabrication facility in Sioux Falls, their five-person erection crew works at the tower site to weld the pieces together.

“We cut them and form them into sub-assembly pieces, which are pieces that are large enough to go on a semi trailer. Then they’re delivered to the job site where our field erection crew welds everything together and then hangs the tank out in the field,” Cooper said.

Once the pieces are welded together and assembled, the seven-person paint crew takes over. They start with sandblasting the inside and then paint the interior with an epoxy coating that is approved for potable water.

After they finish the inside, they put up a containment, which is arms and tarps they can pull up and down. They put up the containment to prevent paint particles from drifting in the air.

“With the containment, they can’t have it in the air when the wind is blowing over 15 mph because it makes it unsafe. When you talk about the safety aspect and it looking scary, all of our crews are trained in working in heights and everyone has 100 percent tie off,” he said. “Everybody wears hard hats and harnesses and safety glasses and everybody’s 100 percent tied off at all times. It’s part of the industry standard and what we do every day.”

With the wind speed, they build in some delays to the construction schedule. They remained on schedule with painting for this project. The whole painting project took about five weeks to do the inside and outside.

Once the white paint dried, they hand painted the Tea Titans logo on the tank. Cooper relates that they stick the outline to the tank and then fill in the paint.

“It’s kind of like paint by number - this has to be blue. The lightning bolt is yellow. Doing the logo takes a couple of days,” he said.

After the painting is done, the three-person electrical crew comes to finish up the work on the project.

Maguire Iron builds about 35 new water tanks a year. All water towers are designed specifically to withstand high winds and adverse weather. This year they are working in 28 states.


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