Old water tower to be demolished

Relic . . . The Hilbre Ave water tower’s days are numbered after it was deemed a health and safety hazard due to the risk of falling concrete. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

A decommissioned water tower which has stood in Gore for 74 years will soon meet its end at the cost of $700,000.

Gore District councillors passed a recommendation at a council meeting last Tuesday to have the Hilbre Ave structure demolished due to health and safety concerns.

Though the tower was in reasonably good condition for its age, falling pieces of concrete posed a risk to anyone close to the tower, engineering consultant company Beca said in a report to Gore District Council Three Waters asset manager Matt Bayliss.

“Additional signage warning of the falling hazard may be appropriate for any personal [sic] accessing the site where they are familiar with the facility and have the correct PPE equipment,” the report said.

“Excluding the public from the site would mitigate risk of harm and is recommended, but requires an investment in fencing.”

Beca recommended at minimum, the tower should be inspected and serviced annually.

Mr Bayliss said an exclusion zone and warning signs had been set up as interim measures, but given that the tower no longer served an operational purpose, maintaining it at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year was not economical.

“Demolition of the tower sooner rather than later seems the only logical option.”

A local demolition company estimated the cost to be $500,000, he said.

“[However], the fact that there are operational pumps in the base of the tower somewhat complicates the demolition.”

Moving the pumps and building a new pump station southwest of the current site was estimated to cost $200,000, bringing the total cost of the project to $700,000.

The money would come out of the $1.48million budget allocated for the Hilbre Ave reservoir replacement, which was no longer expected to go ahead prior to the Government’s proposed Three Waters reform transition date of July 1, 2024.

Councillor Bronwyn Reid raised concerns over the potential noise of the new pump station, which could disturb nearby residents.

Mr Bayliss said the pumps were “not significantly loud” and the building could be soundproofed.

Crs Neville Phillips and Stewart MacDonell were not convinced $200,000 would be enough to cover the cost of the new pump station, while Cr John Gardyne questioned the priority of the project over the Hilbre Ave reservoir replacement.

Cr Bret Highsted said given the health and safety risk, it was a priority.

“In terms of concerns around the budget … it doesn’t really affect our decision today.

“I think we’re still obliged to address this issue.”

Mayor Tracy Hicks said demolition costs would only increase if the project was put off.

Cr Highsted moved the recommendation to demolish the tower, which passed but was opposed by Crs Phillips and Gardyne.