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Empty water tower seen over the years as landmark That could create a ‘high’ profile identity for Manteca
pumpkin tower
This is a photoshop picture of the old city vehicle maintenance building and water tower on Wetmore Street that ran in the Bulletin 10 years ago when then council candidate Ben Cantu suggested the community should consider raising money to paint the water tank like a big pumpkin.

Aaron Bowers looked across Moffat Boulevard toward the water tower looming on the horizon across the tracks from the Manteca Transit Station.

An idea came to Bowers who was inspecting progress on the Pacific Motel teardown last week to make room for the Manteca High student parking lot expansion.

Bowers, who serves as the Manteca Unified School District facilities and operations director, thinks it would be a great idea to place decals of the high school mascots/logos on the water tower with one facing to the west toward Sierra High, one to the northwest for East Union High, and the other to the west for Manteca High.

For good measure the Family City’s logo could join the high school mascots along with the name “Manteca” that is currently stenciled on the side of the tank.

Of course, such a project would have to be accomplished through donations.

It would be similar to the college and minor sports logos that grace the squat water tank along Interstate 5 in the City of Stockton.

It’s not the first time suggestions have been floated to use the water tower to create a high profile calling card for Manteca.

Back in 2012 when he was running for City Council, now Mayor Ben Cantu floated the idea of painting the water tower like a giant pumpkin. He even offered to donate the first $100 for the project that was estimated at the time to cost $150,000 based on a city proposal to repaint the tower from ground to top.

The idea was to pay homage to Manteca’s signature crop — pumpkins.

Not only does the Manteca area grow 80 percent plus of all pumpkins in California, but it is also home to the Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Festival the first weekend of October in downtown. As such the “giant pumpkin” would overlook what is arguably the largest event each year in Manteca.

Cantu, after hearing about Bowers’ idea, said he’d help secure council permission for such an endeavor. He stressed, however the cost of the decals and putting in place would have to be covered by donations if it were to happen.

The water tower was built in 1962.

It hasn’t held water for more than 15 years.

That’s because the added weight of the 300,000 gallons of water it was designed to hold failed to pass updated state seismic engineers to declare it unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.

In 2012, then City Manager City Manager Karen McLaughlin outlined four possible options for the council in regards to the water tower’s future and the council’s desire at the time to have a giant American flag flying over Manteca as an option advanced by a private vendor seeking to place a cell tower on municipal property.

• Retain the water tank and include funds in the 2012-13 budget to strip and repaint the tank.

•Proceed with construction of a proposed cell/data tower with or without the “post flag” on top with subsequent removal of the water tower in 12 to 18 months.

• Consider the alternative of constructing an 80-foot-tall flag pole in front of the corporation yard administration building to accommodate a much larger flag. Funds would be included in the 2012-13 corporation yard expansion budget.

• Consider construction of a new water tank, either within the corporation yard or at a new, more-visible location in the southeast area of the city.

The council went with the new water tank.  A site had already been reserved for such a water tank on Atherton Drive just north of Woodward Avenue and west of Moffat Boulevard. The water tank was constructed the following fiscakl year.

The water tower serves as as communication link via various antennas and dishes for numerous government and emergency services communication functions. Those would need to be relocated if the tower were torn down.

 Ten years ago, it was decided the water tower—   if it remains in place for use for both cell and data antennas — would have  have to be eventually repainted. The cost to do that is between $125,000 and $150,000 due to the need for the safe removal of lead paint, improvements to the ladder on the water tank, and new paint.

The water tower, however, has not been repainted.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email