Lincoln's tallest, coolest drink of water is now towering 100 feet over the north edge of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's City Campus.
The 8.16 million-gallon water tank rose over the winter just across Salt Creek Roadway from the Devaney Sports Center, and will be ready to begin cooling the campus later this fall or early next year.
“It’s pretty big,” said Charlie Griesen, the university’s utility project manager. “Everyone’s been like, 'What are you guys doing over there?'”
The short answer: They're building an insulated water tank that will deliver chilled water to the campus cooling system during the hottest summer hours, lowering its utility bills by up to $900,000 a year.
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The tank has been going up in pieces at North 17th and Holdrege streets: Each 40-foot-by-10-foot panel was pre-rolled by the contractor and trucked to Lincoln, where it was stacked and welded onsite.
The lower plates are the thickest, made with steel 1⅛ inches thick to withstand the highest water pressure. They get thinner toward the top, with the highest ring of plates three-eighths of an inch thick, Griesen said.
The slightly pitched top will arrive next, pie pieces that will be welded together to close it all up. And after that, they'll wrap the tank in 3 inches of insulation, like a jacket, covered with aluminum panels.
The tank's designers pitched multiple designs for its exterior, including one with a band of Husker red, one with black, one that connected it visually to the nearby Devaney Center.
The university's Aesthetics Review Committee rejected those, Griesen said.
So they chose a staggered pattern of gray and white panels, trying to make a 100-foot-tall tank with a 120-foot diameter not so noticeable, he said — “a color panel that lets it blend into the sky.”