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Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of new water tower construction in Bloomington

A group of people stand in a grassy area holding shovels, posing for a groundbreaking ceremony. They are dressed in varied attire ranging from casual to formal. Trees and construction equipment are visible in the background.
Emily Bollinger
City officials and construction workers contributing to the construction of Bloomington's new water tower participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, June 26, 2024.

In a development aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure, Bloomington officials, alongside community leaders and construction teams, gathered Wednesday for a groundbreaking ceremony of a state-of-the-art water tower.

The event, held on the south end of Bloomington, marks the start of a project that the city hopes will enhance access to reliable drinking water and infrastructure throughout the community.

The new water tower in south Bloomington, set to be built over the next 18 months, is part of a $400 million water system overhaul subsidized by Bloomington residents.

Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe expressed enthusiasm about the project, emphasizing its pivotal role in securing Bloomington’s water supply as population grows.

“This tower is more than just a big tank,” said Mwilambwe. “It is a commitment to making sure that Bloomington has a reliable water source for years to come.”

Mwilambwe even characterized the tower as the “Beyonce or Taylor Swift” of water towers.

The site on West Hamilton Road was selected and prepped nearly 25 years ago. Landmark Construction is slated to build the tower; Stark Excavating will complete the foundation work. Thus far, the biggest disruption has been to the 18th hole of nearby Prairie Vista Golf Course, which has been relocated.

“Currently, we pump water from almost 10 miles away to Division Street,” said Bloomington Water Director Ed Andrews, noting the current pumping system is nearly 100 years old.

“It’s time to address that and modernize our delivery to the residents,” Andrews said.

Bloomington Water Director Ed Andrews gives remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new water tower on West Hamilton Road.
Emily Bollinger
Bloomington Water Director Ed Andrews speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new water tower on West Hamilton Road.

Benefits of elevated storage

Elevated water storage helps maintain consistent water pressure, acts as a backup water supply during pump and power outages, and reduces overall energy consumption.

Early in Andrews’ tenure last fall, a power outage resulted in lost water pressure to more than 100 homes.

“Elevated storage gives you approximately 24 hours of capacity up in the air,” Andrews said. “Gravity doesn’t need electricity to work. Our ability to offline or elevate that storage gives us that extra level of protection.”

Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony was attended by city council members, engineers and representatives from Landmark Construction. Residents also joined the event to witness the start of a project.

"Our city council has placed a significant focus on infrastructure," said City Manager Jeff Jurgens. "This is a significant milestone.”

As work begins, residents can expect construction traffic, but minimal disruption to daily life. Plans are in place to manage traffic flow and ensure public safety throughout the duration of the project.

The proceedings concluded with a ceremonial golden shoveling of dirt. For further updates on the construction progress and project milestones, residents are encouraged to visit the city’s website.

Lauren is a student reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2024.
Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.