Waco: Historic water plant’s smoke stack under repair

(Photo by Paul J. Gately)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The smoke stack at Waco’s Riverside Water Plant is encircled with scaffolding while workers repair the 80-year-old concrete structure.

The concrete and mortar at the top of the structure was deteriorating and occasionally chunks of concrete would fall to the ground, City of Waco spokesman Larry Holze said.

So city council approved a project to remove the old masonry and replace it with a synthetic material that then will be coated with a stucco-like exterior, so it will look “just like it does right now,” Holze said.

The smoke stack, part of the original Waco water plant, is a landmark on Lake Brazos.

Right now it’s ringed with scaffolding, “and that’s the best looking scaffolding I ever saw,” Holze said.

The building and all its parts are historic structures, recognized by the State of Texas as antiquities, so state law requires it be maintained in its original condition.

Inside the brick building are two old-fashioned steam pumps that used to move water through the system’s pipes.

The facility may be old, but it still serves water customers, Holze said.

The much more modern Mount Carmel Treatment Plant handles 70- to 75-percent of water customers on the system and the Riverside plant fills in the other 25- to 30-percent.

Holze said the Riverside plant provide water primarily to the downtown area and to East Waco.

The old plant no longer actually treats water, but is used as a delivery system for water, all of which is treated at the Mount Carmel facility.