Creative Paintings Turn Water Towers Into Landmarks in a Florida Beachfront City

Two water towers in the Florida city of Destin become popular landmarks thanks to a beach scene mural and corporate logo design.

Creative Paintings Turn Water Towers Into Landmarks in a Florida Beachfront City

The beach scene mural on the award-winning elevated tank was painted by muralist Eric Henn. 

Two elevated water tanks in Florida’s Panhandle don’t just hold water, they are also award winners, considered tributes to the city of Destin by their operator, Destin Water Users.

The newer tank, built in 1974, showed effects of wind and wear from Hurricane Ivan in 2004. As part of regular maintenance, repainting was scheduled for winter 2016. Lockwood Wernet, general manager, credits Judd Mooso, water superintendent, with suggesting, “Let’s paint it something different.”

“We thought it would be a contribution to the community to invest in a mural for the tank,” Wernet says. Paint schemes and concepts were gathered from plant operators, the utility’s tank maintenance firm, a muralist who specialized in large-scale elevated paintings and others. Wernet presented the final design for approval by the directors of Destin Water Users.  

Scene of the sea

Sandblasting and application of more than 200 gallons of base and final coating were interrupted by weather challenges. “Winter in this part of Florida gives you plenty of sunshine, but with unexpected shots of cold weather, rain, and wind mixed in. It made the job interesting,” Wernet says.

The most interesting part of the job is the huge mural of a beach scene that wraps around the 500,000-gallon tank. The mural shows two colorful Adirondack chairs resting on the white sand beach along Destin’s emerald waters. An attractive stand of windblown sea oats reaches from a nearby sand dune, and a fishing boat passes by on the horizon.

Painted by muralist Eric Henn, the tower won the 2017 Tank of the Year award sponsored by paint manufacturer Tnemec. A photo of the tank will appear on the January page in the Tnemec calendar for 2018.

Blue and white

The older tank was built in 1964, right after Destin Water Users became incorporated as a private, member-owned, not-for-profit corporation. It stands on the hillside site of the original Destin Water Users headquarters building. Known as Tower 1, this 75,000-gallon tank was recognized in 2017 as an American Water Works Association National Landmark.

To commemorate the occasion, a water drop-shaped cast bronze plaque was unveiled during a public ceremony. The plaque is embedded in a concrete, boulder-sized pedestal that rests at the foot of the tower. It is inscribed, “An American Water Landscape Significant in the History of Public Water Supply.”

As part of regular maintenance, the tower was repainted in 2015 with the company’s blue-and-white colors and displays the corporate logo. The original paint job was alternating orange and white panels, showing the pedestal-style tower as a beach ball.

Wernet says both towers are landmarks and have played significant roles in navigation for Destin’s large commercial fishing industry. Before GPS and satellite navigation, fishermen used the towers to help determine their position in the Gulf of Mexico. “Boaters still use the towers today, but generally just for visual navigation,” Wernet says.

Daily highlight

The tank with the painted mural stands on the site of Destin Water Users’ 6.0 mgd George W. French Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The plant’s treated water is reused for irrigation by golf courses, homes and commercial properties. Highly visible from Highway 98, the main thoroughfare through Destin, the tank is a source of pride to Wernet and his staff. Public feedback has been positive, and the community loves it.

Wernet says, “One woman said it’s the highlight of her day as she drives to work because it reminds her of the beaches that brought her here.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.