Rising 160 feet into the air, the water tower on London Road northeast of Pittsburgh Drive overlooks the city of Delaware.

And it just got a $650,000 facelift.

Completion of cleaning and maintenance was expected at the end of June, including paint jobs for the interior and exterior of the tower and any needed repairs, said Lee Yoakum, the city's community affairs coordinator.

The interior bowl is cleaned every five years and the exterior is painted every 15 years, he said.

The city has two other water towers, one south of Sunbury Road east of the Tri-Township Fire Station, and the other south of Cheshire Road, east of U.S. Route 23

Each tower uses a cathodic protection system in which electromagnetic equipment emits a pulse to prevent rust and corrosion inside the bowl, Yoakum said.

The Cheshire Road tower – constructed in 2006 and the city's newest – holds 2 million gallons, he said, and the London Road and Sunbury Road towers each hold 1 million gallons.

The three towers shouldn't be considered sealed containers opened only in emergencies, Yoakum said.

"Instead, they are part of our citywide water-distribution system," he said. "Some amount of tower water is circulated through the distribution system daily. This ensures fresh water is always being stored. The towers are topped off during off-peak times when water usage is less – like overnight, for example."

The city system distributes just under 3 million gallons a day, he said. In addition to water distribution, the water towers' lower levels provide storage space.

"We are using the Cheshire Road tower's base for storage this summer," Yoakum said. "It's a concrete-pad floor. We are doing some safety and access renovations to City Hall's interior and will move some office items to the tower base."

Special finishes are used to treat the London Road tower, said Blake Jordan, city public utilities director.

"For the wet and dry areas of the elevated steel tank's interior, a moisture-cured urethane is spray-applied as the primer. Then, a potable water epoxy coating is applied. The tank's exterior steel receives a coat of primer, followed by acrylic polyurethane, and a top coat of polyurethane finish.

"Utilities staff can access the interior water bowl, if needed, but this kind of specialized, suspended elevated work, we contract out," Jordan said.

The contractor is L&T Painting, Yoakum said.

He said the London Road tower was built in the 1980s and raised 50 feet to its current height in the 1990s to increase water pressure.

"The London Road tower was one of the first hydropillar-style towers built in the United States when it was constructed in the 1980s," he said.

"Other styles people might be familiar with include the pedestal (bulb on a stem) and the traditional-style bowl supported by a center column and four legs," he said.

Each city water tower employs an all-steel interior and exterior construction, and each has an electronic monitor showing how much water is inside, he said.

Funding for the London Road tower project comes from residents' monthly water-bill fee, Yoakum said.

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