Destin water tower named landmark

SAVANNAH VASQUEZ 315-4412 | @destinlogsav
DWU Tower 1 located at the intersection of Benning Drive and Azalea Drive.

The blue and white single pedestal water tower at the intersection of Benning Drive and Azalea Drive is a common site for most in Destin. Erected by Destin Water Users (DWU) in 1964, the tower has been a welcoming beacon for many as well as a source of clean water for the entire city. This month, the tower was recognized as a water landmark by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

“The AWWA American Water Landmarks Award is presented to recognize and preserve a Water Landmark at least 50 years old that has had a direct and significant relationship with water’s supply, treatment, distribution, or technological development,” said DWU General Manager Lockwood Wernet. “It should be of a permanent and nonexpendable nature, be recognized within its own community or region as a popular, valued, or historically significant property, and has been and will be maintained in a manner appropriate of landmark status.”

The tower sits atop one of Destin’s highest elevations and local lore has recorded it’s use in several meaningful ways throughout the years.

“Local fisherman used it to triangulate their location in the Gulf of Mexico,” Wernet said. “It is written in the minutes that originally it was going to be a silver tower, but some of the board members asked to paint it with bold colors to have it stand out.”

The tower was thus painted orange and white to resemble a beach ball and then solid orange remained until 1985 when it was repainted with DWU’s blue and white logo seen today.

The single pedestal design was also a distinguishing feature when it was first built in the early ‘60s.

“Back then in a lot of small towns you would see the typical four-legged towers,” said Wernet. “You would often see each graduating class climb the tower and paint their number on it. But the Destin tower, one of the design features with the internal stairway was used to keep people from climbing the structure.”

Destin’s 75,000 gallon potable drinking water storage tank will soon have a brass plaque to accompany it as it will be officially inducted into the AWWA landmark status in the spring of 2016.

“The significance of this award is that the AWWA recognizes infrastructure such as buildings and water towers that have been in existence for more than 50 years and that is a significant milestone for a utility,” Wernet said when asked what this recognition means to the company. “It means it has been in continuous use, well maintained and continued in operation and has now been recognized for that longevity.”