Like many rural communities, the City of Russell in Southwestern Minnesota had a water tower that was deteriorating, as well as other issues with their public water system. Built around 1935, the 50,000-gallon water tower has undergone routine cleanings and re-coating of surfaces over its lifespan but was beginning to show its age after 86 years of service. The water tower was not in compliance with today’s OSHA (Occupational & Safety Health Administration) or MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) standards without safe access in or on the tank. Further investigation of the water tower identified more issues, such as traces of lead-based paint and ice buildup on the exterior of the water tower. The water tower required an ever-increasing amount of maintenance to keep it functional and safe for the community.
Finding an Engineer
Marie Grant, City Clerk at the City of Russell shared, “We started working with Rural Development when we realized that we were losing a lot of water that we were paying for, either through our pipes or through leaks. We were also having some sewer issues and storm sewer issues.” Russell interviewed three engineering firms before choosing Bollig Inc in Willmar, MN as their engineer. Marie remembers, “When the Bollig team showed up they were prepared to tell us how they could help…not just the engineering but also how they could help us get grant money and how to work through all the paperwork.”
“When the Bollig team showed up they were prepared to tell us how they could help…not just the engineering but also how they could help us get grant money and how to work through all the paperwork.”
The City of Russell worked with Bollig Engineering using a holistic approach to assess the condition of their facilities. Each component was reviewed and discussed. With the water tower, Bollig helped the city consider their options, and ultimately it was determined that the best long-term solution would be to replace the water tower with a new and updated structure. Along with the replacement of the water tower, they took the opportunity to begin modernizing their utility’s communications and prepare for future projects.
79% Funded by Grants
Bollig is often able to help small cities like Russell to obtain funding through various grants for their infrastructure projects. This meant a lot to Marie and the leadership team at the City of Russell, “The Bollig team pinpointed a lot of our issues. They helped submit grant applications and helped us work through getting grant money through various programs.” The total water tower project had a cost of $1.76 million but it was funded 79% by grants! Marie noted, “The staff at Bollig were only a phone call away and answered all our questions. They completed all the paperwork that they could. It can be very confusing to know what you are paying for, but they have been very helpful in tracking the funding and paying our contractors in a timely fashion.”
“The Bollig team pinpointed a lot of our issues. They helped submit grant applications and helped us work through getting grant money through various programs.”
Russell’s New Tower
Although Russell’s new 50,000-gallon water tower is just part of the City’s ongoing public water project, it’s a step in the right direction to provide safety, ease of maintenance and address regulatory issues. After bidding the water tower project in Spring of 2022, the city hired Maguire Iron, of Sioux Falls, SD to construct the new tower. The selected design was a hydrocone, common to rural Minnesota cities, which helps a City like Russell to have very stable water pressure. The new 130-foot tower was erected in Russell in the Fall of 2022 and will get its final coating in the Spring of 2023. Along with the updates to address safety and coating concerns, the tower has also been designed with mixer and recirculating systems to reduce the risk of freezing in the winter and improve water quality during the summer months. To accommodate the new tower location, Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water will construct a new meter building designed to meet their updated standards at the new tower site. Other work that needs to be done yet includes interior welding, coatings, electrical, and installation of the remote monitoring and water meter reading systems.
Although the water tower in Russell needed replacement for OSHA compliance and new coatings, there is no doubt that a new water tower will also add to the ambiance of the small city. The Bollig team worked closely with the City of Russell to ensure the tower was designed in harmony with their vision for the City as it is currently, as well as their vision for future growth. Since modern coatings systems are more resistant to fading, the water tower is sure to look great for years to come. The old tower is being removed from a small city lot, and the new water tower is located outside of the residential areas, giving their charming community a fresh new look and image to be proud of. Since water towers often invoke a sense of pride for residents, Bollig encouraged the city to design their own landmark. The city leadership decided to put the water tower colors on a citywide vote – red and white was the winner. The water tower was painted in May 2023. The water tower painting and logo were done by Spiegel Sandblasting and Specialty Coatings. After the new tower was test and in service, it was time for Russell’s old water tower to come down. It was removed piece-by-piece in just one day (see video).
Russell is a community of 338 people located in Lyon County in Southwestern Minnesota (approximately 14 miles southwest of the City of Marshall, MN). One of the things that makes Russell unique is that it is the only city in Lyon County that has a lake and a river, and it also has an ATV trail right on the outskirts of town. According to Marie, it is also the people that make it special, “We have an excellent volunteer Fire Department and a great First Responder group. People love that it is a small quiet community where everyone is willing to help.”
Small Cities. Big Solutions.
Since most small cities have limited resources and tax base, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start with a project this large. Marie acknowledged, “We would not have had any idea how to proceed with our water tower issues. The Bollig team has been with us every step of the way and has guided us through any issues that come up. They are great to work with and explained everything.”
“We would not have had any idea how to proceed with our water tower issues. The Bollig team has been with us every step of the way and has guided us through any issues that come up. They are great to work with and explained everything.”
Neighbors Serving Neighbors
At Bollig Engineering, we are proud to provide big solutions to small cities like Russell. We are neighbors serving neighbors, working to strengthen, preserve and transform the future and quality of life of communities. To find out more about how Bollig can help your small town with infrastructure needs and funding assistance, reach out to us at (320) 235-2555 or contact us here.