Engineers admits error in water tower design

A new water tower built in east Dickinson is too tall and must be shortened, representatives from the engineering firm KLJ told the city commissioners on Monday.

A water tower built in east Dickinson is too tall and must be reconstructed, KLJ engineers told Dickinson City Commissioners on Monday, Aug. 1.

A new water tower built in east Dickinson is too tall and must be shortened, representatives from the engineering firm KLJ told the city commissioners on Monday.

KLJ engineers admitted during the regular meeting that the 150-foot tower was built 78 feet too tall because of an error that happened early in the engineering process. The firm intends to completely absorb the cost of its error. "It did not meet our level of expectations and we let you down," KLJ Chief Production Officer Barry Schuchard said. "We're going to work very hard to make sure we get it corrected and I want to assure you that we're going to take responsibility for this. There'll be no additional cost to the city."

The city approved a change order at KLJ's request that would allow the firm to pursue re-engineering the tower to be only 72 feet.

The tower, which has already been constructed near the city's Public Works Building, was engineered with specifications from the wrong city water zone, said Barry Synhorst, KLJ's division leader.

"With the water in the existing water distribution system, we can't get the water up to the level that it needs to be in the water tower," Synhorst said. "Even if we could get the water up that high, because of the elevation difference, the pressures coming out of that water tower would be too great."


Schuchard said the firm has been intensively working with city staff and its contractor to come up with a variety of options for fixing the mistake.

One option KLJ explored was to install a pump system that would lift the water up the existing tower to the elevation it needs to be at to create enough pressure.

Synhorst said KLJ consulted with a variety of peers and other municipalities-including some in Montana, where there are often challenges with pumping water because of differences in elevation-but could not come to a consensus on whether or not that idea would work.

Commissioners and engineers agreed that shortening the water tower was the most effective way to assure the project is completed by year's end.

"I think this is the right choice too," City Commission President Scott Decker said. "If you put a bunch of pumps into play, you have a lot of valves and moving parts that can fail."

Kessel said the city has asked KLJ to review other projects it's working on for the city to ensure there are no other engineering flaws.

"The city staff took this issue very seriously and have asked them to go beyond the scope of this water tower and make sure other work has been done accurately. I know they've also had to approach other engineering firms to verify some of those things," Kessel said. "It's a humbling experience for KLJ, but I do think they've taken the right steps to correct them."

V Public Works Director Gary Zuroff and Aaron Praus, the city's solid waste manager, gave a presentation about implementing a city-wide recycling program. Commissioners voiced their agreement that the city needs a recycling program but made decision on the matter, other than to continue moving forward with researching the best ways to put the plans into motion.


V Mike Lefor was sworn in as the fifth member of the city commission. Lefor, a lifelong Dickinson resident, owns DCI Credit Services and is a Republican in the state House of Representatives. He'll serve on the commission through November, and will not seek the position that is open in the general election.

V The commission approved a 30-day contract extension for city attorney services with Mackoff Kellogg law firm. Kessel called it a short-term solution as the city continues to deal with human resources issues stemming from its dismissal of former city attorney Jennifer Gooss.

V The commission unanimously approved the creation of a new corporal position with the Dickinson Police Department to help provide more leadership within the department. The corporal position is a second-in-command position at the squad level and has some supervisory duties.

V The city accepted a bid of $323,480 from Edling Electric to install new traffic signals at the intersections of 21st Street West and Third Avenue West, and at 21st Street West and State Avenue.

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