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What's up with the water?

The Garfield water tower was drained in August so that two coats of epoxy could be painted on the inside. This is normal maintenance for a water tower every 15 to 20 years. Echo Press photo by Tara Bitzan

Some locals wanted to know why water was shooting out of a fire hydrant in Garfield during the hot, dry days of August.

What the newspaper thought would be a simple question with a simple answer ended up not being quite so simple.

We heard that the spewing water may be tied to the repainting of the inside of the city's water tower.

After numerous calls to Garfield's City Hall and individual council members, we finally spoke to council member John Nienaber Jr.

Nienaber said the tank was drained through normal use so that the inside could be repainted to prevent rust.

When asked about the spewing hydrant, he said that would be a question for the company that did the work — Maguire Iron of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

"They may have used it as a relief valve, but I don't know," Nienaber said. "You'd have to ask them."

So we called Chad Johnson, tank maintenance project manager for Maguire Iron, a company that specializes in cleaning, repairing and painting water tanks and towers.

Johnson explained that the process first involves emptying the water tower, which in this case, was the city's responsibility.

He explained that typically, cities will use up as much water as possible through normal use, and then blow the rest out through a fire hydrant.

Maguire Iron inspects the interior and exterior of the tower, identifying any problem areas.

"When the paint wears away, rust could happen," Johnson explained. "Rust is the worst enemy of a water tower."

The company added two coats of epoxy to the inside of the tower and let it stand seven days to cure.

The outside of the tower was pressure-washed and any rusting spots were repaired and repainted.

"This should last from 15 to 20 years," Johnson explained.

When asked about the spewing water hydrant, he said, "I'm not sure what route the city took with the water, but my guess is that it was used as a pressure relief valve, which is quite common in this type of a situation."

The project was started in mid-August and took about three weeks to complete, including curing time.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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