WEBBER TWP. — Webber Township officials are negotiating with SUEZ North America to rehabilitate their water tower. The water tower was built and paid for by GEO, Inc., in 1998 to cover water usage for inmates housed at the prison facility, and the township is hoping GEO will help cover expenses for the required upgrades.

Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wogatzke explained the Department of Environmental Quality is requiring the township to repaint the water tower.

“When the water tank was first installed, GEO hired a company who was using experimental paint, which chipped. Because of this, the tank had to be painted twice since 1998. Now the DEQ wants us to repaint it again. The tank will have to be stripped to the primer and re-coated. I want to negotiate with GEO to help cover the cost of repainting the tank,” Wogatzke said.

Although the water tank was originally property of GEO, Inc., the state wanted the township to take it over, he explained.

Wogatzke has been in contact with Dan Kitchen, a representative of SUEZ North America, about a proposal to rehabilitate the water tank.

Kitchen addressed the township board during the September meeting about costs involved and services offered.

The SUEZ North America proposal will cost $100,000, which will be paid through a five-year agreement plan.

“We plan to blast outside of the tank to re-coat it, re-coat the inside of the tank and put remix inside to prevent ice damage in the water and keep the water circulated,” Kitchen said. “The proposal will include emergency services, repairs and future rehabilitation. Warranty repairs will be on our dime. If anything prematurely fails with the water tower, our company is responsible for maintenance.”

Wogatzke said the township could help cover the payment through money collected from residents for water usage, but wants to see if GEO, Inc., could contribute toward the costs of repainting the tower.

“I want to get the best deal I can for the people,” he said.

When Wogatzke negotiates with GEO, Inc., he plans to discuss a couple additional items regarding maintenance of the water tank, including ready to serve water fees and draining excess water in the tank.

“Because the North Lake Correctional Facility is now empty, the tank needs to be drained to keep the water fresh for our other residents who use it,” he said. “We either need to dump water or find a way to keep it circulated.”