Winter storm update: Asher continues water tower repairs

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Water pouring into a glass on blue background.

Two water towers in Asher sustained significant damage from the February winter storm that left 90 percent of the town's population without water for a time, but the town has completed repairs to one and will continue work on the other.

According to Asher Water Superintendent Jason Johnston, one of the town's water towers located on North Division Street had severe ice damage.

"We have (two) man hole covers on the bottom of the tower which would allow access in case you need to repair it and both of the seals around them failed," Johnston said. "I would say the first eight inches of the water of the entire tower froze so we had probably seven feet of ice in the bottom of it."

He explained he and his workers had to place large heaters in the tower to melt the ice and replace the oil ring gaskets on the doors of the man holes to reseal them.

In addition to the first tower, Johnston said a pipe in the elevated tower located on South Division Street burst and also needs to be repaired.

"About 40 feet off the ground a pipe froze and busted so we had quite the little sprinkler system going on there," Johnston said.

He explained this water tower will be fixed by a crew provided by the town's insurance company and repairs are expected to begin Monday, March 16.

While the towers were damaged by the storm, Johnston said the isolation valves for both towers malfunctioned due to old age and they needed to be replaced.

"If they worked we would be able to just shut the tower off and just bypass it but they didn't and we had to repair those too," Johnston said.

According to Mayor of Asher Wes Culwell, the total cost of the repairs is about $70,000.

Culwell said a majority of those costs are damages caused by the storm and will be covered by the town's insurance.

However, Culwell said, the cost of the replaced isolation valves will not be covered and the town hopes to receive reimbursement for those costs by applying for additional funding.

At this point, Johnston said all Asher residents have water and the repairs to the second water tower are to ensure everything is completely functional again.

"So far we haven't noticed a pressure change and we want to make sure it's back to being as normal as possible," Johnston said.

The water superintendent said the town is currently working on obtaining a back up water source in the event something like this happens again.

"We're actually looking at putting one of our old wells back online but as far as the plan of action for the towers (since we replaced) the valves, if something was to happen with the towers we could shut them off," Johnston said.