Tech water tower to come down

Jul 30, 2009 | General News

A nearly 75-year-old Louisiana Tech icon has reached the end of its days.

The process to bring down this 125-foot water tower, which was constructed in November 1935, will begin the first week of August.

Due to long-term concerns about the water tower’s long-term sustainability, Sam Wallace, director of facility and support services, said it was decided that the best route was to connect with the city of Ruston’s water supply and use the irrigation pond, which is under construction, to help with irrigation needs.

“We will no longer be in the water business,” Wallace said. “It’ll take about two weeks to bring it down; our goal is to have it finished before A.E. Phillips and the university start in the fall.”

The 150,000-gallon tank’s maintenance made it too much of a problem to sustain, and, as the university would have had to drill more wells and continue updating the systems, connecting with the city and using the irrigation pond was found to be the best option. While the city will supply most of the campus’s needs, the pond will help water the grass, including the athletic fields.

“We knew we needed to irrigate, and we wanted to reduce our dependence on the Sparta,” Wallace said. “We became concerned with the tank’s infrastructure, and it no longer fit what we needed.”

Bruce Ayres, physical plant director, said while the main issue the old water tank is facing is maintenance, it has completed its job of holding water for the last 74 years.

“It’s been a landmark for many years, but we are progressing and moving ahead with a better water system,” Ayres said. “There will be some cost involved as we will be buying water from the city, but the irrigation pond will reduce our irrigation water usage from the city and the Sparta Aquifer. That should offset some of the cost.”

Tech President Dan Reneau remembers the water tower from his days as a student – and the stories surrounding it.

“There was a student in engineering who was in a surveying class and had to measure the water tower,” Reneau said. “He had some trouble with the trigonometry, so he and a friend decided to measure it on their own. He claimed that one of them climbed up the water tower and dropped a rope down, and they measured the height of the tower that way.”

Reneau said when he was a student – around the time this story was told – the football field, which was located about where A.E. Phillips Laboratory School is, was the water tower’s neighbor.

“There’s always a little sadness that comes with progress,” Reneau said.

The process of removing the water tower and putting the campus on Ruston water should take about two weeks, Wallace said.

“It’s almost sad,” Wallace said. “We’re bringing down something that has been on campus since 1935 – it’s almost 75 years old. When you think of the students who walked by it and drank water from it and the freshmen coming in the fall who won’t know anything about it, that’s the almost sad part.”

Written by Judith Roberts