Iconic Idaho Falls water tower to be torn down

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Idaho Falls Water Tower | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

IDAHO FALLS — After nearly a century, it’s time for the Idaho Falls water tower to retire.

Built in 1937, the iconic red, white and blue water tower overlooking the city has supplied water for 82 years. Nearly 100 years has taken its toll on the steel structure. During Monday’s City Council work session, the council discussed plans to tear it down and replace it with a tower better suited for the growing city’s needs.

“That existing tower was built when Idaho Falls was a lot different,” Public Works Director Chris Fredericksen told EastIdahoNews.com. “Our intent really is to double the volume that we have in that existing tower which is about 500,000 gallons. So we’ll be looking to put up about a million.”

Plans to tear down the tower have been in the works since 2015 when the city approved their Water Facility Plan. The plan lays out renovations and improvements for the city’s entire water system. The city is now at a point in the project to begin work on a new water tower.

“It’s going to help us with maintenance costs. It’s going to provide us with additional security for emergencies, so we don’t lose water pressure, which is a huge deal for the city. It will double the capacity we currently have. I think its a very good thing for the city,” city of Idaho Falls spokesman Bud Cranor said.

The current tower won’t be torn down right away. Fredericksen said it needs to stay in use until the new tower is complete as it provides water pressure to the entire city. So the red and white tower will remain up until the spring of 2024.

Right now, the city needs to decide on one of the three city-owned properties that have been singled as possible sites for the new tower, and public input is wanted in making that decision.

“(The current tower) has been a part of Idaho fall for a long, long time and we want to make sure the public has the ability to weigh in,” Fredericksen said.

Renderings of proposed replacement water tower. | Courtesy Idaho Falls Public Works

The new location needs to be near the current tower as the existing tower sits directly over the well that supplies the city with water.

The proposed locations are South Capital Park south of Idaho Falls Power, a parking lot next to the State of Idaho Building and the parking lot behind the Idaho Falls Library. Each property is city-owned.

The public will get a chance to voice their opinions on where the site should be on May 7, during the city’s annual budget watch meeting.

The project to replace the tower is estimated to cost $6.5 million. That money is coming from revenue produced through water rates and water fees. There will be no need for any bond or tax raise to pay for it.

During the City Council work session, Idaho Falls Water Superintendent Dave Richards explained the proposed design for the new tower. Instead of an all steel frame, the new tower would have a concrete base with a steel container on top.

The city has established a web page dedicated to the water tower replacement including the presentation the city council saw during the work session.

“We’re just excited to have a new tower built to current standards. To make sure (the new tower) stays up there as long as we need it in service,” Fredericksen said.

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