The appearance of a crew of workers climbing atop the Apalachicola water tower high above the city is a vivid symbol that water quality is improving.
City Manager Travis Wade said the 60-day project, at a cost of about $225,000, involves recoating the inside to protect water quality and sandblasting, priming and painting the outside, by the beginning of April.
Of course the Shark logo that once honored the Apalachicola High School mascot will be gone, replaced by to-be-determined artwork.
Wade said he was pleased that Five12 Painting and Remodeling, whose bids came in a good $50,000 lower than others, got good recommendations from other cities that had used them. “It felt a lot better awarding them,” he said.
What feels even better is that completion of the water tower work will fulfill the last item on a consent order.
“The one with the drinking water will be closed out,” Wade said. “There had been nothing done to the tank in years.”
He said completing the work on this elevated tank, as well as reconditioning work on the ground tank on Chapman Road by the airport, has been an important part of the city’s success in lowering its levels of trihalomethanes (THMS), chemical compounds formed when water is disinfected with chlorine.
“They’ve started dropping already,” he said. “The water clarity is better and the THMS are way, way down.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires that the quarterly average of THMS not exceed a maximum level, and Wade said that based on the results of the most recent quarter, he expects that results after the tank refurbishing will lead to another successful quarter.
“We will have the consent order closed out,” he said. “We’ll still have normal requirements but not the stigma of having that consent order hovering over us.
“We have been under a consent order for years and we’re almost out from under that,” Wade said. “(Former Mayor Kevin) Begos started running with it, and the public works guys, everybody has worked their butts out. Those guys worked non stop and they still do.”