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January 13, 2012

Did You Know?: Purdue water tower

Water Tower

Originally Purdue's water tower was painted red and white in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. It was repainted white with a black and gold Motion P in 2001 after Purdue received permission from the FAA. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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Standing 142 feet tall and 92 feet wide, Purdue's water tower -- complete with a Motion P -- rises high above the north side of campus, storing and supplying potable water for the entire University.

The tower, which was constructed in 1960, holds 1.5 million gallons of water that are used on campus for cooking, irrigation, washing and drinking. The water in the tower fulfills everyday usage and fire protection needs including at fire hydrants and interior sprinkler systems. Average monthly water usage is about 85 million gallons of water for all of campus.

Nine wells located near the Recreational Sports Center and Intramural Fields pump water to the steel tower to maintain a water level between 18 and 34 feet at all times. In case of emergencies, the West Lafayette and Purdue water sources can interconnect if additional water supplies are needed in either water system.

Originally the tower was painted red and white in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. It was repainted white with a black and gold Motion P in 2001 after Purdue received permission from the FAA.

The interior of the water tank is cleaned every two years. A diver in a sanitized dry suit with a remote air supply conducts an inspection and sweeps any settled matter. A camcorder attached to the diver's helmet records the inspection and allows for closer examination and analysis if necessary.

Visual inspections of the tower's exterior occur each day, and water treatment equipment, which is housed in the base of the tower, is monitored daily to ensure compliance with clean drinking water regulations from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency. The tower is repainted approximately every 10 years and currently is scheduled to be painted in summer 2012.

Source: Jay Schwartz, operations and distribution manager for utilities.