After closing down the discussion of whether or not to grant a new retail business waivers on water and sewer fees, the Crossville City Council voted to contract Tank Pro Inc. to paint the Homestead Water Tower and Depot Caboose at a cost of $466,713. Some citizens thought this might a bit too much to pay for a paint job.  So we did a little checking. We found another city that was paying a million dollars to have their water tank painted.  Here’s an excerpt and explanation from that project director which may help shed some light on the enormous expense in painting water tanks.

The cost may seem sky-high to some people, said Bob Kollmer, owner of Kollmer Associates, which consulted for the city of Woodbury for the painting contract. But that’s only because they don’t know what it takes to finish the job, he said.

“They call it painting, but it is really rehabilitating,” said Eckles. The painting process includes stripping away years of corrosion and rust. 

Painting steel is complicated, said Kollmer. If there is any sign of rust, he said, the steel must be sand-blasted down to what he calls “the white metal.”

When workers sand-blast the exterior surface, an immense curtain is raised around the tower to control dust. To passing commuters, it looks like the tower is putting on pajamas — a massive striped curtain that goes up and down.

That dust-containment system alone costs about $100,000, said Kollmer, including the rooftop outriggers that lift up the curtain.

The painting is done in phases — the inside and outside of the tower, then inside and outside 

The steel requires a zinc-based primer and two coats of epoxy paint. Site foreman Raul Molina said the paint costs roughly $110 a gallon — or $150,000 to paint surfaces almost twice as big as a football field. On other water towers, the paint can run as much as $400 a gallon for the final-coat, high-gloss urethane.