Canal Winchester's three water towers, which combine to hold nearly 1.4 million gallons, are in need of inspection and two require paint jobs.

The city's 10-year, $77,000 maintenance contract with Caldwell Tanks Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, is up for renewal.

"Basically, we're taking a proactive approach with our towers," city Public Works Director Matt Peoples told city council May 20. "We do the same thing with all of our other equipment. Before this contract, we were very reactive with it, even from an inspection standpoint."

The previous contract included annual inspections and scheduled maintenance of the tanks located near Ashbrook Village and North and South Gender roads.

The oldest tower on North Gender Road dates to about 1970, Peoples said.

Although City Council likely won't consider a new contract until its meeting Monday, June 17, it's expected to be cheaper -- about $61,000, water department superintendent Joe Taylor said.

Maintenance includes "wash outs" every three years, which involves draining the tank and cleaning to ensure water quality, Taylor said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends washouts every five years.

"They come in, wash it out, clean it and clean any of the silt that's settled in the bottom of the tank, disinfect it and then put it back in service once it passes a bacteria test," Taylor added.

All three tanks have been painted in the past 10 years; however, the two tanks along North and South Gender roads are due for a new coat of paint, Taylor said.

"This contractor, what we've done for the past 10 years, could be one of our biggest cost savings that we've done the whole time," Mayor Mike Ebert said. "It's well paid for itself."

Peoples said a new tank could cost more than $2 million, so "it is worth it to do the maintenance."

The city's approximately 2,800 residential and business customers pay $6.33 for each 1,000 gallons of water used and $5.88 for each 1,000 gallons of sewer service.

A new schedule approved by council last fall will bump water rates to $6.46 per 1,000 gallons beginning in 2021 and $6.59 per 1,000 gallons in 2022. Sewer rates will increase to $6 and $6.12 per 1,000 gallons in those years, respectively.

The city rolled out a multiyear water meter-reading project last year, which is designed to phase out old equipment and deliver new technologies involving a radio-read system.