Jefferson City Builds New Water Tower

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JEFFERSON CITY - On a cool Saturday morning, construction workers dangled more than 100 feet off the ground, covering Jefferson City's newest water tower with a protective tarp.

The tower is slated to be completed by September and will house a water tank with room for 1.5 million gallons of water. Missouri American Water Operations Manager David Treece said that the new tank will play a major role in the city's water distribution system.

This tank is being built to replace an 80-year-old underground water tank, part of the city's old water distribution system that Missouri American Water is working to slowly update.

The ongoing project includes replacing thousands of feet of outdated water main in addition to the tank construction. In 2013, the company replaced 500 feet of old water mains on Jefferson Avenue and installed an additional 3,700 feet of underground piping to connect the new water tank to the system.

"The tank is going to stabilize the water system," Treece said. "It's going to have a more reliable water source for the community."

Missouri American Water has been in charge of Jefferson City's water system for 12 years. Since that time, the company has been investing in improvements to the aging system.

"The Jefferson City water system was started more than 100 years ago. Decade-by-decade it grew as the town grew," External Affairs Manager Ann Dettmer said. "Like most water utilities, now our concern is about replacement."

Over the past 10 years, Missouri American Water has spent $23 million on various improvements to the water system, but Treece said that there is no definite end date for the system-wide replacements.

"I don't think there's some magic day at the end where we would say that it's complete," Treece said. "Obviously once you get done, there's usually something else that needs to be done."

Dettmer said the company looks at a number of factors when choosing which parts of the system to replace each year, including main break rates, ages of the pipes, the soil around the pipes and the number of customers served by the pipes. In 2014, Missouri American Water will spend $175,000 replacing 1,150 feet of water mains on Oakview Drive and 510 feet on Adams Street.

Water system replacements are not just a concern for Jefferson City. According to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013, Missouri water providers will need to invest an additional $8.4 billion over the next 20 years.