White Oak gets ready to tackle repair for tilted ‘tower’ on Big Sandy Creek

The ‘Leaning Tower of White Oak’ is actually located a good distance upstream on Big Sandy Creek, and officials are eager to get it righted as soon as possible.
The nickname’s the only bit of levity surrounding the 60-year-old ‘can’ tied to the primary water intake for the community’s flow. The can has dislodged and tilted, hindering standard operation and requiring an urgent – and careful – repair before any real breakage.
“We’re not getting the proper amount of water at the bottom,” White Oak City Coordinator Jimmy Purcell told council members last month. “In order to fix this, we’d have to get in equipment to basically go over and push it into place. We don’t know what’s going to happen at the bottom of that can because of how old it is – the rust.
“If we push it over, that’s the simple fix. If it does break, the price goes up to fix it.”
According to Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Beaux Huey, there’s no telling what crews will find when they attempt the upcoming repair.
“We do have a backup pump, but that is our primary pump… If it breaks off at the bottom, we’re done,” he said. “If we can push it back and attach it to the concrete, we’re good.
“If we can, we need to get this situation resolved as soon as possible.”
Notably, in the event of a catastrophic problem with the community’s water source, there’s a limited supply available in the reservoir, Huey noted, three weeks at best.
Costs for the repair, including making a path for an excavator to reach the can, could range up to $100,000.
“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that it could be as cheap as $25,000,” Purcell said.
The tilt probably began in the latter months of 2023, Huey said, ultimately impact flow enough that water plant employees took notice.
“I can tell you’re worried about this,” council member Thomas Cash said.
“It’s a big deal,” Huey replied. “That’s our water. If we don’t have that, we don’t have anything.”
The project’s in limbo right now until repairs get on the schedule upriver.
“OK. Well. Thanks for the news from Big Sandy,” Mayor Kyle Kutch said. “It’s usually not good when we have news from Big Sandy.”

– By James Draper

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