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Water being used on old post office

I've been watching the demolition of the old post office. What are the workers spraying on the building? My co-workers thought it might be a chemical agent to help with the breakdown of the concrete.

— Sandra L., Medford

Sandra, you can tell your co-workers that it's just water, plain old water.

Demolition is a dusty, dry business, and water helps to minimize the amount of particles in the air, said Ron Richey, a partner with Staton Cos., the subcontractor responsible for clearing away the former Medford post office building on West Eighth Street.

On a nonwindy demolition day, workers will use between 2,000 and 4,000 gallons of water — less if it's wood construction.

"Someone will come up and complain that we are wasting water, and we tell them to take it up with the people complaining about the dust," Richey joked.

Once the building has been obliterated and any metal removed (and recycled), the concrete debris will be crushed and used for backfill. The water helps to condition the concrete as it must have a 13.5 percent moisture content to compact properly, Richey explained.

Staton crews will be done tearing down the building next week and will have three weeks to backfill and smooth out the area before general contractor JE Dunn Construction Co. begins work on a new 86,000-square-foot, two-story building, plus an accompanying parking structure, for Jackson County health services.