The water tower at Cal State Long Beach is currently undergoing routine maintenance to remove lead based paint located inside of the structure.
Campus, Long Beach, News

Water tower that looms over CSULB undergoes maintenance

The sight of ongoing construction is nothing new for students at Cal State Long Beach, but a major landmark located off-campus has induced head-scratching from many walking through the university lately.

The water tower that overlooks the school from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been fully wrapped with scaffolding from top to bottom for the past few weeks.

“It’s fairly routine update maintenance we do every five to six years,” said Rich Beam, Veterans Affairs Hospital director of public relations. “They are repainting both the inside and outside of the tower, so it is currently empty and not operating.”

The water in the tower, when in function, circulates in and out of and cools the hospital’s power-generating machinery.

Along with a recoating of the inside, the hospital will be refreshing the outside of the tower along with the Veteran Affairs logos. With the scaffolding up and all the equipment already available, Beam said the university has been in contact with the hospital about the opportunity to make the “Go Beach” logo that faces campus more vibrant as well.

“We want to invite a representative [from Cal State Long Beach] to come and see the site,” Beam said. “It would be ridiculously expensive to do it at another time.”

The university was unable to comment on whether or not the logo will be repainted as well.

“I don’t really think about the water tower,” Jessica Mendoza, a junior film major said. “I wasn’t really surprised about all the [scaffolding] because of all the other construction that has been going on.”

Since it is not used for drinking or irrigation, the inside was coated with lead-based paint. Removal and blasting off the paint will take place soon and the inside of the tower will be repainted with a non lead-based paint.

“The scaffolding will be covered to contain old paint during the removal process,” Beam said. “The black tube running down the side of the scaffolding is to capture fine dust created during the blasting of the old paint and coating.”

Because the old material can be harmful to the environment, the main goal of the project is to contain the residue and stop it from spreading around the nearby area.

“Containment is important so people and the environment are not unnecessarily exposed,” Beam said.

Students on campus have been well aware of the metal and wood planks around the tower, but have had a different assumption of what work is being done.

“I just thought they were going to take it down,” Leslie Rodriguez, a junior biology major said. “I don’t like it because it doesn’t look cool and you can’t really see what it says.”

Beam said that the water tower has always been up to code as far as earthquake safety regulations, and that no other structural work is being done.

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