Topping off the towers
The way Lon Glazner sees it, the current repainting of the water towers at Third and Orient streets calls for a little creativity.
“They could be painted like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bottles,” he wrote recently on his blog, “Commission Impossible,” on norcalblogs.com. “Or if we don’t have much money in the public-art funds we could go for Keystone Light with the silver can (our water’s great, because of the specially lined towers!).”
He elaborated in a phone interview: “They’re up there, and we all see them; they are a part of the Chico skyline. It would be nice to see some artwork commissioned for the towers.”
But hey, this is the real world, and California Water Services Co. is sticking with its tried-and-true approach, painting the tops of the towers white. The insides will also get a fresh coat, District Manager Mark Lightcap said.
The 101-year-old towers sit empty while they receive their new paint. The towers initially pressurized the water system in Chico, but they have become less important with the system’s modernization, so operations are not interrupted when they’re empty, Lightcap said.
“We have wells distributed throughout the Chico water system that maintain pressure with little or no use from those towers,” he explained. “We maintain and keep those towers in good repair because they are a historical landmark in Chico.”
If you pass by the towers and look up, you might see Gonzalo Romero or Oscar Mendoza on the scaffolding adorning the 125-foot towers, spraying on the new paint. They work for AA-1 Services, which contracts with California Water Services Co.
“It’s a safe, easy climb and the view is cool from the top,” Romero said.
The outside of the towers is repainted every five to seven years, Lightcap said. The last time the insides were painted Ronald Reagan had just been elected president—in 1980.
Romero expects the project to take him and Mendoza two more weeks to complete.
Along with the new paint job, workers will also be replacing and upgrading the Nextel cellular antennas slapped near the top of each tower, Lightcap said.
Well then, if revenue is the goal, Glazner said, he’s got an even better idea: “If they end up building any new Wal-Marts in the area, maybe they could paint two big smiley faces on the towers and point them toward the new stores.”