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Capacity reduced for Nehls Park water tower

PUC approves seeking bids on tower with 250,000-gallon storage

November 28, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission pondered the future water needs for New Ulm hilltop area Tuesday before approving the slimmed-down plans for the proposed water tower at Nehls Park.

The PUC did not make any official decisions on the future of the hilltop water supply. However, commissioners decided to move forward with a 250,000-gallon Nehls Park water tower in the original "fluted" design and put the project out for bids. The tower would be built in 2013.

Naeem Qureshi, spokesperson for Progressive Consulting Engineers, Inc., gave the presentation on the hilltop water needs and potential designs for the Nehls Park tower.

The water supply and storage system for the hilltop area relies on elevated storage tanks that create the necessary water pressure by using gravity. Alternative options such as pumping water up the hill have been turned down by the PUC due to high costs and potential shutoff during power outages. The hilltop area currently has its water supply met by two towers - a 100,000-gallon tank at Hermann Heights and a 200,000-gallon tank at the airport.

The hilltop area had a water storage requirement of 261,000 gallons in 2011. Growth for New Ulm is expected to increase that demand to 621,000 gallons by 2035.

The Hermann Heights water tower was recently determined to need replacement after a leak was discovered last December. The Nehls Park site was chosen because Federal Aviation Association and Minnesota Historical Society regulations coupled with cost considerations limited options for a new water tower location.

PUC Engineer Pat Wrase said the initial plan called for the Nehls Park tower to be 500,000 gallons, thus meeting the hilltops current and future needs.

However, an analysis of the piping system showed the way the pipes were laid out due to the topography, as opposed to the grid-system in the valley area, the Nehls Park tower could not fully facilitate the water demand for extreme events like a fire at the new Menards site. As a result, Wrase suggested to the PUC go with a smaller, slimmer 250,000-gallon water tower design.

The options presented to the PUC were to continue with the 500,000-gallon Nehls Park plan, to just build a 250,000-gallon Nehls Park tower or build the 250,000- gallon Nehls Park tower with future plans to build an additional water tower approximately a quarter mile northwest of Highway 14 to replace or supplement the airport water tower.

The presentation added that the water needs for the growth corridor could alternatively be met through installing a booster or work on the piping layout in the area. Both options would be dependent on a future analysis to determine viability.

Some hilltop residents expressed interest in an unique design for the tower. The analysis on design costs showed that the previously presented "fluted column" design would cost $880,000 for just the tank compared to $1.5 million for the tank of any specialty designs.

Going forward, Wrase said further discussion whether building another water tower beyond the new Menards site would be needed would occur at future meetings. He said he expects an analysis to be done within two or three months. He also said the PUC is looking into the possibility of building restrooms and a drinking fountain at the Nehls Park tower base, depending on cost.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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