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Climbing Water Towers? All in a Day’s Work!


February 27, 2014, by City of Arlington, TX

Don’t try this without a safety harness….When problems “rise up,” City of Arlington Water Utilities employees rise to meet them!

Elevated storage tanks (AKA water towers) play a vital role in the daily operations of the water utility; not only do the water towers provide storage and help treatment operators handle surges in water demand, but once water has been pumped into a water tower, electricity isn’t needed to pump water under pressure from the tower through the pipes. This means that when the electricity goes out, water service doesn’t have to shut off as long as there is still water in the water towers. Keeping these water towers functional is very important, so climbing the tanks to assess their condition or do maintenance is all part of a day’s work for some Arlington Water Utilities employees, who shared their experiences climbing water towers in February 2014.

Paul McCutcheon works for Information Services within Arlington Water Utilities. He climbed Grace Howell Elevated Storage Tank in February in order to diagnose some problems with radio communications from the tower. Apparently, climbing runs in Paul’s blood. “My Dad used to do it for a living back in the day, “says Paul, “He never used any fall-protective devices other than a strap once they stopped climbing…crazy!” Of course, Paul and all AWU employees use a safety harness any time climbing a tower is necessary.

Mia Dia, a Civil Engineer within Water Utilities, climbed Collins Elevated Storage Tank in February.  She made Arlington Water Utilities history by becoming the first female employee in Arlington to climb a water tower.  “I wanted to climb tanks when possible during [water tower] evaluations so that I could gain the maintenance perspective, get hands on experience with these great structures, and to optimize the engineering designs, “Mia explains. When asked whether it was worth it, Mia grins and says, “It was challenging but well worth the experience and training.”

James Doonkeen, Chief Mechanical Technician, and Victor Quijano, Mechanical Technician, helped prepare and train Mia for her tower climb. “Whatever issue may arise [with the water towers], the Maintenance team will climb to check it out or assist, “James declares. James and Victor climb towers routinely to check their condition and perform maintenance, including repairing lighting, fixing sample taps from the bowl of the tower to ground level, and assisting the Electrical Team with radio communications issues.

Working with Arlington Water Utilities comes with its share of adrenaline! For current job postings, visit

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