Patriotic Flare Wins Tnemec Tank of the Year Title

Tnemec Tank of the Year award winner in City of Cocoa continues its vital role in maintaining utility’s water supply.

The City of Cocoa’s award-winning water tower stands near the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and State Road 520, about 15 miles south of the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Named Tank of the Year last October in a national online competition sponsored by the Tnemec industrial coating company, the landmark structure with three 25-foot-tall American flags pulled 20,703 votes, outpacing more than 200 other nominees.

Standing nearly 165 feet tall, the tank is featured on the cover of Tnemec’s 2016 calendar, which also features entries from Plant City, Florida; Amboy, Illinois; Carrollton, Texas; Cedarville, Ohio; Chesterfield, Virginia; Lebanon, Missouri; Mont Belvieu, Texas; Nobleton, Ontario; North Newton, Kansas; Oak Grove, Missouri; and Zebulon, North Carolina.

Big territory

Cocoa’s 1.5-million-gallon water tower was built in 1957 by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company to support NASA’s growing space program. “That was the year we expanded to provide water to the Kennedy Space Center, which was literally being built out of the ground,” says John “Jack” Walsh, utilities director.

“NASA decided to bring the space center to the area, and Cocoa negotiated a contract to extend them water. In doing that they built a tank and pipeline. That waterline still serves us today.” The tank’s trademark flag was added in 1976 by Demetrios Dourakos, a Greek immigrant and owner of Royal Painting Company, to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

“The story goes that he did it out of his own pocket,” Walsh says. “He just came and asked permission. It’s part of the pride of the tank that somebody took it upon himself to show patriotism and love of country.”

The classic 12-legged tank remains a main component of the utility’s distribution system, which supplies about 22 mgd of water to 250,000 customers. The service area, with about 80,000 connections, includes the municipalities of Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Rockledge, a large section of unincorporated Brevard County, the Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral, and Patrick Air Force Base.

More than just pretty

The city also has four inground storage tanks and a smaller elevated tower to the north for reclaimed water. The award-winning tank serves a number of purposes, but one of the key benefits is helping to buffer pressure changes.

“When you push that water 150 feet in the air and the demands around Cocoa, Cocoa Beach and even Merritt Island quickly change, the water drops and changes in height automatically as opposed to having to react with a variable-speed-drive pump,” says Walsh. “We can adjust pressures in the system by simply filling the tank, which is a much simpler process than monitoring pressures throughout the area and then adjusting the pump and flow rate.”

Cocoa’s salty coastal air proves a constant challenge to maintaining the tank, which was renovated in 1991 and 2003, and again in 2014 at a cost of $810,000. That was likely the first time the tank was stripped down to bare metal; the project took almost a year. “There was some corrosion that was being buried under the paint,” Walsh says.

Walsh calls the tower a beacon along Florida’s east coast; winning the Tank of the Year contest adds to the community’s sense of patriotic pride. “We were really thrilled to be recognized,” he says. “And I think it’s a good time for our country. It’s a great reflection on the City of Cocoa and the people we serve.”


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