*Post corrected 10 a.m. Tues May 31 (Thanks to reader Andy for catching the missing 2,499,997.5 gallons of water I left out!)*
Reader Nancy Williamson sent this email to our firstname.lastname@example.org inbox:
I was wondering if you can find out and publish why the Salem water tower has exterior doors way up high? I heard it was because the YMCA was originally going to have offices in there?!
So Salem did some checking around, and the answer is yes. Well, kind of.
When the tower was built in 2000-2001, three floors with windows and doors and one lower level were intended for possible offices and storage. Salem’s planning office said ideas were even tossed around for a restaurant at one time.
The heavy reality of two and a half *million* gallons of potable water sitting atop the empty space deterred any further exploration of it becoming an office space or otherwise. And they remain empty. All that’s reportedly inside the tower now are storage spaces, the water’s operational parts, antennae and cable for the cell phone and other towers atop the tower, and a two-story-long vertical ladder.
Here’s a short Q&A with Water Department director Caleb Taylor:
Q: How tall is the water tower?
A: It is approximately 130 ft. tall.
Q: where was Salem’s water tower before the current one?
A: The tank at the YMCA replaced two water tanks in Salem. One of the previous tanks was an elevated tank located at the end of Morwanda St. The second tank was located at the top of the hill behind the Salem Church of Christ.
Q: How does water get into the tower, and is the water contained there purified, ready for home use or is it rain water, untreated water?
A: Potable water (treated, filtered and disinfected – ready for consumption) is pumped from the water treatment plant to fill the tank.
Q: Do you know approximately how long the water tower is supposed to last?
A: For a long time. Its life is directly linked to how it is maintained. If the tank is regularly maintained and inspected, it could last a long time. There are too many variables that come into play when attempting to determine an exact life expectancy for this structure.
Photos courtesy of the city of Salem