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Fargo to replace 3 north-end water towers with one megatower

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This water tower is west of 10th Street North between 15th and 14th avenues north in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 5
This water tower is west of 11th Street North between Sixth and Seventh avenues north in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum3 / 5
This water tower is between Fifth Street North and Broadway, just north of the railroad tracks and the Great Northern Bicycle shop. Dave Wallis / The Forum4 / 5
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FARGO — The city skyline could soon change again, this time not from a new building but from the demolition of three water towers.

City staff is proposing to demolish the city's oldest towers and replace them with one megatower to reduce maintenance costs and improve efficiency.

Water Utility Director Troy Hall said his office considered rehabilitating water towers Nos. 1, 2 and 3 a few years ago, but inspection and analysis suggested the city could save $3 million by starting fresh.

City commissioners approved the plan at their meeting Monday, March 13.

The No. 1 tower at Seventh Avenue North and 11th Street, built in the 1940s, is the oldest. The No. 2 tower north of the Great Northern Bicycle Co. and the No. 3 tower, the distinct red and white structure near the corner of 10th Street North and 14th Avenue, were both built in 1955. Together, the three have a capacity of 2 million gallons.

The towers don't operate at capacity because it's too much of a challenge, Hall said. They sit a bit too high above the ground and the water pressure needed to fill them to the brim costs more to maintain and could rupture older water pipes.

Rehabilitating the three towers would cost $4.9 million, which would include splitting the city's water system in half to better manage the pressure issue.

A new tower would cost an estimated $6.9 million up front, but maintenance costs would be lower, resulting in projected savings of $3 million over the typical 50-year life of a tower.

The new 2-million gallon tower that could be filled to capacity would be built where the No. 1 tower is now, Hall said. It would look a lot like the city's newest water tower, No. 11, built in 2010 near the corner of 32nd Avenue South and 42nd Street. That one has the greatest capacity among city water towers.

What will happen to the land where towers No. 2 and 3 are now located is not immediately clear to Hall, who said it wouldn't be up to him.

Those towers appear to host a variety of communication antennas.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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