Emporia residents were invited to attend a bowl raising for the city’s newest water tower Tuesday morning near Penny Lane and S. Weaver Street.
Overseen by BG Consultants and Louisville-based Caldwell Tanks, Inc., the roughly $3.5 million project will provide an increased water level throughout the city and its industrial parks. The new 1 million gallon, 74-foot wide tank took several hours to completely lift to the top of its concrete pedestal, and when finalized in November, the complete structure should have the same high water level — 199 feet — as the water tower located on 12th Avenue next to Dillons.
“Several years ago, it was pointed out to us by our then-Public Works Director Frank Abart that we needed to get more water down to the southeast part of town and also get more elevated storage,” City Manager Mark McAnarney said. “We started working toward that end by putting more water lines down in this part of town, and the tower should be online by the end of the year. It will definitely help the current manufacturers out here [in Industrial Park III], and we have some more vacant lots out here, so hopefully it will be a big positive for manufacturers and companies as they look at our town. The elevated storage should also help with companies’ insurance rates.”
Nearly $1.35 million of construction costs — which included the purchase of more than 210 tons of steel and more than 100 loads of concrete — were covered by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to aid the Flint Hills Economic Development District.
“On behalf of the city, we want to thank Mark McAnarney and [Regional Development of East Central Kansas President] Kent Heermann for writing the grant to the EDA,” Mayor Jon Geitz said. “The Department of Commerce was a team player and integral part of making sure that this happened … We probably couldn’t have built this water tower without the help of the EDA grant.”
In a speech before the bowl raising, Mark Werthmann of the U.S. Department of Commerce said he believed the impact of the new tower would combine with other investments to be seen within the community right away.
“The EDA has invested over $26 million in the state of Kansas over the last 10 years,” Werthmann said. “We’ve invested in projects such as public infrastructure, business incubators, job training facilities, planning and technical assistance … This particular project will help the city have a secure source of water for the businesses in the industrial park. For instance, Simmons Pet Food will create 100 jobs and has invested over $38 million in new facilities. This water tower is also located in Emporia’s opportunity zone, which is a funding priority for the EDA as well as the administration.”