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Welding work underway, canopy coming soon to paint water authority tank

May 25, 2015

LANSDALE >> Sparks flying in midair roughly 100 feet over Third Street in Lansdale are just one sign of work to come soon to one of the town’s most visible landmarks.

And even more visible changes will be coming within the next few weeks, weather permitting, as the North Penn Water Authority prepares to cover, then sandblast and repaint, its water tower at Third and Richardson streets.

“We are working on the steel, and shortly we will be starting the actual painting of the tank,” said Dan Preston, NPWA’s director of operations and engineering.

“In the next two weeks, we’ll be putting up a canopy, which will protect the tank side and keep any debris or sandblasted material off the adjacent properties — and keep the site safe,” he said.

The 2-million-gallon tank at Third and Richardson was built in the mid-1950s, before NPWA in its current form was established, and was painted with that era’s NPWA logo in the mid-1960s. Throughout the past several years, the water authority has been planning to repaint the Lansdale tank,a $2 million project funded by water authority revenues that could only be done after completion of a new 3-million-gallon NPWA tank in Franconia that is now up and running.

Last summer the water authority and Lansdale’s Communication Commission surveyed residents to ask which of four possible color schemes they’d like to see once the tank is repainted, and the most popular was previewed when test letters were placed on the tank last November: a dark blue band with the stylized L logo and the words “Lansdale: Life in Motion” within.

In recent weeks contractors have been upgrading the ladder rungs that climb much of the tank’s legs (to meet 2015 safety standards instead of 1950s ones), moving cellphone antennas that had been installed along the upper walkway of the tank onto two temporary antennas standing near the tank base, and installing conduits so utility lines running up the outside of the legs can be hidden on the inside of the legs of the tank once it’s repainted.

During the next two weeks, a canopy that Preston said will resemble “a big giant shower curtain” will be installed surrounding the tank, which will be able to be raised or lowered depending on the height where work is being done. That variable height means anyone watching the tank will catch glimpses as it gradually loses the current paint scheme, as the tank is sandblasted down to bare metal and a new layer of base paint is applied, inside and out, which should last roughly 30 more years.

“Over the next two months we’ll be painting the tank, and the plan is to bring it back into service by the end of August,” Preston said. That work could be delayed if we have a wet or stormy summer, since rain and high winds can create unsafe conditions for workers at that height.

“However windy it is on the ground, multiply that by five times or so when you’re about 150 feet in the air. It’s pretty windy up there,” he said.

Waiting until the Franconia tank went online means that there should be no impact to water service for anybody within the NPWA’s customer base. The Lansdale tank is already empty, “and we’re functioning very well at this point without the (Lansdale) tank,” he said.

For more information on the North Penn Water Authority and its various projects, call (215) 855-3617, visit

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North Penn Water Authority
300 Forty Foot Road
Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215.855.3617
Fax: 215.855.2756
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