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Farmington Hills

August 4, 2014

Water tower dedication pours it on big during unveiling

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brinker pours water into a pitcher from the city’s water tower pipe at the ribbon-cutting for the new tower July 28. The water tower holds 3 million gallons of water.

FARMINGTON HILLS — Last year, Farmington Hills resident Carol Kurth and her friend made their imprint on the city in a massive way after signing their names on the budding water tower during a water tower signing ceremony.

“I’ve always had an interest in watching it grow,” Kurth said of the 209-foot water tower located at 27245 Halsted Road, south of 12 Mile Road, on the Department of Public Works grounds. “I’m just amazed. It is so big and weighs so much and was such a project. Hopefully, (the) usage of it will help with our water bills and water pressure and be a significant contribution to residents and businesses here in the city of Farmington Hills.”

During a July 28 water tower dedication ceremony, Kurth and about 50 local officials, community members and others gathered to celebrate.

Kurth, who is also on the city’s Beautification Commission, said she has been following the water tower’s developments to learn what it means for residents.

“When I saw that they were dedicating it, I thought, ‘I should be there,’” she said. “I know my signature is up there somewhere, and it is going to mean a lot as far as water use and water pressure in Farmington Hills.”

The city of Farmington Hills officially opened its new water tower with a mini-tour and view of the pipe gallery in the base of the tower, according to a press release. City officials and engineers answered questions and explained how the water tower works, with Mayor Barry Brickner filling the first pitcher of water from the water tower, Public Services Director Gary Mekjian said after the event.

“There were several reasons the council decided to build the tower,” he said. “One was to try to stabilize future water rate increases. The other reason was to provide some water service to the residents if there is a power outage, and to provide some additional fire suppression capabilities for our Fire Department in case there is a power outage. So some improved public health and safety, as well.”

The $16.9 million tower’s tank is designed to store 3 million gallons of water.

In 2012, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to contract with Oakland County to finance the tower and the infrastructure improvements necessary to make it work. The county was to issue an estimated $16.9 million in bonds to finance the tower, and the city will reimburse the county for the full cost. The county has a better bond rating than the city, so it can obtain a better interest rate.

According to Karen Mondora, civil engineer in the DPW, the water tower was approved to save residents from paying too much for their water. She added that the $16.9 million includes other water system improvements.

“The storage tank will save the city of Farmington Hills residential customers an estimated $3.5 million per year,” she said last year, explaining that the city will not be charged more by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for peak-hour usage. “We pay a premium to use water whenever we need it. During the peak-usage periods, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., when everyone’s getting ready to go to work, we’ll draw water from the tower instead of the city of Detroit’s system, so we can offset that demand and keep usage below a specific contract value, and we’ll pass that savings on to the water system users.”

She said recently that voluntary water restrictions, in place for the past several years, don’t change or impact the water tower.

During water restrictions, the city asks all property owners with automated sprinkler systems —  except those contacted directly by the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office with specific instructions —  to follow voluntary water use restrictions to control future water rate increases, according to the city’s website.

Compliance with the voluntary water use restrictions result in less water usage during peak times and help hold down costs by increasing the efficiency of the water system, officials said.

The elevated water storage tank became fully operational as of June 24, according to a press release.

Construction of the foundation, pedestal and tank was in process for more than a year, and the final phase of painting and interior construction took place this past spring, the release said.

For more information on the water tower or Farmington Hills, go to http://www.ci.farmington-hills.mi.us.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.