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Lavallette Takes Action After Water Tower Found to be Rusting

Lavallette water tower. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Lavallette water tower. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A short while into what was expected to be a long life, the major repainting of the Lavallette water tower completed in 2017 is already deteriorating, officials said, pledging to resolve the issue quickly.

“We discovered, unfortunately, some rust on the water tower,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero. “We’re not even at the three year mark on completion.”

Rust is being found at many of the water tower’s weld seams, said LaCicero. On closer inspection, “we’re also finding specks that are coming through the paint and rusting,” the mayor added.

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In March 2017, the borough awarded a $776,400 contract to Brave Industrial Paint, LLC, to perform the work, which included repainting of both the interior and exterior of the 500,000 gallon tank. The price was a surprise for Lavallette officials – the town had initially expected the project to cost $1.5 million.

The Lavallette water tower during the 2017 repainting project, Oct. 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Lavallette water tower during the 2017 repainting project, Oct. 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

While the exact cause of the early exterior deterioration is not yet known, officials theorize that construction crews performed some metal grinding after the old paint was blasted off. Some of those metal shavings may have remained on the tower, and are now rusting from the inside.

“We should probably go ahead and have them do an inspection of the inside as well,” Borough Administrator Robert Brice suggested at a borough council meeting Monday night. “The inside was inspected last year and there were no issues, but then again, there was nothing wrong with the outside last year either.”

LaCicero agreed, and Brice said inspections could begin this week.

This is not the first mishap linked to the water tower repainting three years ago. At the time the work was being completed, “tens of thousands” of dollars worth of damage was caused when metal shards from the project fell to the street and hit parked cars in the vicinity of the tower.

As for the cost of the project, Lavallette still holds the bond for the paint job, meaning the contractor will be required to correct any issues.

“That’s why we had the bond held, so good for us,” LaCicero said.

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