"Steinbach" will once again be painted in large letters on the city's water tower.
Councillor Jac Siemens notes the tower has been repainted five times since it was first built in the early 1970s. The most recent paint job was largely completed last year.
“There is a big cost to painting it because it is a special quality of paint that you need. The coolness of the water on the inside, and then the heat of the sun, that is a big differential and you need a special epoxy paint to cope. It has to be sandblasted, and before you paint it, it has to be prepared properly and then an epoxy paint has to go on.”
Being very interested in local history, Siemens recently took to Facebook to give Steinbach residents some additional insight.
He notes the original budget was $172k. Adjusted for inflation, that would come out to $1.2M in 2023. By the time it was completed, the tower ended up costing $275k or $1.9M today, a considerable sum for a city of approximately 5,000 people.
On top of that, the water tower was just one part of a $2.7M dollar water and sewer upgrade. Though the city got a $1M grant from the provincial and federal governments, Siemens says they still had to borrow $1.5M ($9M in today’s dollars) over 20 years at an annual interest rate of 9.2%.
Siemens notes they took a lot of heat for this major expenditure but ended up looking like heroes as interest rates skyrocketed as high as 18% over the next decade. He adds it was and remains an important move for the city.
“A.D. Penner was the mayor at that time and they had a vision, they had a lot of issues with the inconsistency of the water and so one of the ways to solve it was to put in a water tower and then the pressure of the water in the tower gives you consistent pressure throughout the whole system.”
Siemens says Steinbach's water tower is still an integral part of the city's infrastructure and will most likely be in service for another 50 years or more.
“The water tower is still in use. We only have one pump at the bottom that pumps water into the tower but because we are such a large system already, we have support with other pumps and so on. The tower will be there for many years to come and functional.”