Government Center suffers more water damage

A second failure of a cooling tower in five weeks at the Chisago County Government Center in Center City resulted in extensive water damage throughout the building. Carpets, flooring, ceiling tiles, drywall and wall coverings need to be replaced as a result. Photo by Derrick Knutson

For the second time in five weeks the Chisago County Government Center in Center City is dealing with the aftermath of flooding due to a plumbing malfunction.

While government workers were away over Labor Day, a recently repaired cooling tower stopped working, which resulted in a water overflow that soaked areas of the Health and Human Services office, the judicial corridor, probation and the Sheriff’s office.

Some of those areas had brand new ceiling tiles and carpet that were installed after the Aug. 1 flooding.

Subsequently, the tiles and carpet were ruined and need to be replaced.

County Administrator Bruce Messelt said insurance would cover some of the repairs, but as of Sept. 5, not all of the fixes were covered.

As a result, the County Board approved spending $50,000 from the county’s contingency fund – used when unexpected expenses arise – to cover the cost of the emergency repairs.

As insurance claims are worked over, Messelt said the county could get some of that money back.

Between the flooding that occurred last month and the Labor Day water damage, Messelt estimated the total cost of repairs could be about $100,000.

Extra precautions

Messelt said it has still not been ascertained why the newly repaired cooling tower failed for a second time, but there will be extra precautions taken now to ensure another overflow does not occur.

“We’re not sure why it failed,” he said. “That will be an issue between the manufacturer, the insurer and the installer.

The brand new unit failed, and as a result the same thing happened. They’ve put in a new unit that is bigger, faster, stronger and that shouldn’t fail. We’ll be working with a plumber to re-plumb the chiller to give it now a third backstop so this doesn’t happen again since we’ve had two failures of the same unit. The plumbing is not cost intensive, but another failure would be.”

Board Chairman George McMahon said workers in the Government Center are dealing with the damage as best they can.

“When this happened everybody had to make adjustments,” he said. “It was quite a mess, but these things happen and we have to react to them.”

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