Residents in the southernBeatrice may notice a decline in water pressure as the south water tower has been drained for maintenance.

The tower will be painted inside and out, and will be out of operation for as many as 75 days, according to Steve Kelley, Beatrice water superintendent.

“The tower will be shut down, so we’ll be running off the north tower for the entire system,” Kelley said. “There will be a little less pressure, especially during high use times with sprinklers running. It’s not drastic, but pressure will fluctuate a little because of use.”

Kelley said some areas could fluctuate by as many as 4-6 pounds of pressure.

The work comes after a November decision by the Board of Public Works to enter into an agreement with Utility Service Co. for water tank maintenance to paint both north and south water towers and make alterations required to meet OSHA safety requirements.

The maintenance agreement costs the city $99,159 for the first six years, $41,087 for the seventh through ninth years and places a 5 percent cap on increases for each additional three-year period.

The city estimated it could save as much as $125,000 duringthe long term, with Utility Service performing the painting, in addition to annual inspections and maintenance.

Painting the towers was estimated to cost about $600,000.

The towers require painting about every 10 years.

Although both towers will be painted during a two-year period, the south is being done in 2012. Because the exterior is in better condition, it doesn’t require sandblasting and will be pressure-washed before painting to cover primer.

Kelley said the tank was drained by the beginning of the week to prepare for the maintenance.

“Because of sweating issues, the tank has to be empty before it can be worked on,” Kelley said. “That tower helps a lot during high-use times to keep pressure constant for customers. If it all goes well, that tower shouldn’t need painting again for 10 years.”