By Joshua Wood, tourism/business reporter
Fifteen minutes south of Torrington, straddling Wyoming Highway 152, sits the town of Yoder. For nearly a century, a water tower stood guard high above the community.
Last week the tower’s watch ended.
The demolition of the water tower, built in 1927, was part of a process to upgrade the town’s infrastructure. The town government used $1.6 million in state and federal funding to replace the old tower and a second aging water storage unit built in 1981 with a single, newer structure.
Rod Weyrich,Yoder Public Works Director, said a newer, taller water tower has already improved water pressure and fire protection. The tower also improved water pressure for Southeast Schools, a kindergarten through 12th grade school in Yoder.
Weyrich has intimate knowledge of Yoder’s water system, having been with the public works department since 1993. He and his family moved to the small town when he was 8 years old and, at nearly 60, he has lived in Yoder for 50 years.
Weyrich said the town’s water system didn’t have enough pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure to meet the needs of residents and especially Southeast School, which needed booster pumps.
“The highest pressure anyone had was 43 (psi) and most homes were under 40,” said Weyrich.
Weyrich said with the new structure, water pressure has risen from 43 psi to around 66 psi.
Five years ago, the older water tower was isolated from the system by blocking the inlet. After years of repairs, the structure built in 1927 could not be repaired any further. This left the tower built in 1981 to keep the system under pressure but that structure was also nearing the point of no return.
Weyrich said to repair and properly line the inside of the both water towers, it would have cost between $30,000 and $50,000 each. The older structure had issues accepting the coating, especially during the winter and the other water tower had, at most, another 15 years of life left.
Instead of throwing good money after bad, Werich said the town was able to secure $1.6 million in grant funding from the Community Development Block Grant, the United States Department of Agriculture and State Land Investment Board. The town used the money to remove both aging water towers and construct the new one.
Despite having a much better, new water system now, Weyrich said it was heartbreaking to watch the tower from 1927 be removed. A photo of the water tower demolition was shared on Facebook by the Yoder Volunteer Fire Department last week.
On one public share of the post, Pat Bell wrote “That makes me sad. I watched for the water tower from out on the highway hundreds of times. When I could see the water tower I knew we were almost to grandma’s house.”