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Tiffin faces towering prospect

TIFFIN— As Tiffin continues to expand, the Johnson County community is facing growing demands on its infrastructure.
One such shortcoming is in the municipal water supply. Former Mayor Royce Phillips felt a new tower was an important project, and new Mayor Steve Berner concurs.
“I agree a new water tower in Tiffin is a high-priority project,” Berner said. He noted the current tower is not meeting pressure demands and that the current volume demand is around 130,000 gallons every day, while the current capacity is only 90,000. “Our current supply meets demand,” Berner said. “However this tower will not supply a surge in demand.”
Berner also noted the age and corrosion of the current tower will expensive maintenance if the tower continues to be used.
On Jan. 11, the City Council hired HR Green, Inc., a civil engineering firm in Cedar Rapids, to evaluate potential sites for a new water tower. The company will then recommend a site, review the city’s water system, and make a recommendation on the proposed tower’s capacity.
“The project includes developing a water system hydraulic model to help evaluate the alternate tower locations and capacity,” said Andrew Marsh, vice president, water for HR Green. Marsh also stated the initial study will take approximately eight weeks to complete. After the council reviews the findings and recommendations, design work can start.
Marsh added at this point, no design or construction schedule has been set, and no cost estimate is available. In general, he said, a water tower project can take approximately one year to construct from start to finish.
Berner said, “I have heard a water project can be estimated at $1.50 per gallon of storage capacity. Therefore a 500,000 tower could carry an estimated project cost of $750,000.” However, he added, “Many variables exist. I hope to have more accurate cost estimates within three months.”
Anticipation of building a new tower led to an increase in water rates 12 years ago. Berner said this means dollars are available in the water fund to contribute to the project costs.
“In addition, we have Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds available for the project. We are working with a public finance specialist to develop the most productive financing plan,” Berner said. “It is important to plan and finance projects without raising taxes for property owners in Tiffin,” he added.