Lusk's Water: Then and Now
Water at the New Town of Lusk
The Lusk Herald, July 28, 1886
The question as to whether water can be secured in abundance and with ease at the new town, is satisfactorily settled. Last Sunday we examined the new well just put down at Mr. Lusk's livery barn, and found that it was 25 feet deep and contained seven feet of the finest water, The water came in so rapidly that the men working in the well were obliged to haul out two barrels of water to every half barrel of dirt. No rock was struck in the well, the subsoil being clay and gravel. Eastern Wyoming is very fortunate in the abundance and excellence of that great necessity--good water.
Converse County Herald, March 17,1904
The city dads are confronted with the proposition of purchasing a new engine for pumping water from the well to the reservoir. It appears that the power of the present machine is not great enough to send the water to the top of the hill, especially time when so much water is used. It is quite a task now for the engine to do the work and a change will have to be made. The present engine is but six horse power and it is thought best to put in a 16 horse power, then will be no doubt about it giving satisfaction. Of course it was a mistake at the start to get an engine of so small capacity, but at that time it was thought it would be able to do the work, The town has reached that point where it must have water, at whatever the cost.
The Lusk Herald, March 8, 1906
Theo. Sagert and W.H. Davis came up from Harrison Tuesday to look over Lusk's water system and get the estimated cost of same, etc. The residents of that town intend putting in a system of water works and these two men were sent here as a committee to get pointers on the best way in which to construct the same.
The Lusk Herald, August 15, 1912
Tuesday afternoon Marshal Hitshew turned the water off, long enough to drain the old reservoir and to remove the remains of four mice which had fallen victims to their curiosity or their love of good water. It is intended shortly to make connections so that each reservoir may be used independently of the other; then when it is required to clean out one the other can be kept in commission.
NEW WATER MAINS ARE BEING EXTENDED TO MEET DEMAND
The Lusk Standard July 18, 1919
Work of laying the pipe line for the new city water system will be begun within a few days. Already most of the 12-inch main pipe is on the ground and has been strung along the street. Through the courtesy of City Engineer R.F. Gray, the Standard man was shown the plans of the system.
The 12-inch main pipe begins at the pumping station north of the track and will extend as far south along Main street as to the north side of Mayes’ addition, a length of 4,000 feet. This 12-inch pipe will also extend up to the reservoir. On Third street west to Capital Hill there will be a 10-inch pipe and on Fifth street from the library east to Maple street an 8-inch pipe will be laid. Also on Eighth street from Ash east to Maple the plans call for an 8-inch pipe, and on all the streets running north and south from these larger feeders, 4-inch service pipes will be put in.
According to the plans there will be 45 new hydrants and 60 valves in the mains, in place of the three valves which very inadequately perform the work of the system at the present time. The addition of this large number of shut-off valves will permit of shutting off the system to only a very limited number of the users of the water at time, when it is necessary to make connection with the mains for new patrons coming on the line. At the present time, a new connection on the line ofttimes means the shutting off of the water to half the people in the city during the time the connection is being made.
The arrangement of the sizes of the lines on the different streets has replaced only a small portion of the old system, and still giving an equal division of the water to all consumers.
The new system will give a pressure of a full 50 pounds to the square inch and will be amply sufficient for fire purposes. The head in the reservoir is gaining a little at the present time, Mr. Gray informs us, but still the supply of the well and the size of the pumping plant are about equally insufficient to produce the water for the present needs of the city. Relief will come from this source, however, when the new pipe has been laid, the larger pipe causing less pressure from the pumping plant to the reservoir than the smaller one now in use.
The contract for the laying of the system has been let to the Gordon Construction Co., a Casper concern which has moved its large power digger and dredger to Lusk to be placed in use on this work. The Gordon construction Co. were the contractors for the water system of Scottsbluff, and have but recently completed a contract for a similar system at Manville, this county. Mr. Gordon informs the Standard man that he is in readiness to start work on the Lusk system so soon as all of the material is on the ground, and the large digger can be seen sitting just opposite the Northwestern depot, on the north side of the track.
The people living in the southern part of town and far beyond the reach of the lines of the present system are especially pleased to see this line going in, as those living at the extreme southern part of the new addition are at present compelled to have their water hauled to their doors by wagon for home consumption.
WORK COMMENCES ON CITY WATER WORKS—MAINS BEING ENLARGED
The Lusk Standard, August 8, 1919
After many unavoidable delays, by reason of time required in making out the city bonds papers, and other technicalities necessary to perfect the legality of the expenditure of so large a sum of money as will be required in the city improvements yet to be performed this summer and fall, on Saturday last the Gordon Construction Company put a force of men at work on the pipe line for the enlargement of the city water works.
The first excavating to be performed was in raising the smaller four-inch pipe which has been the city main pipe at the point where it leaves the bulk-head at the reservoir. This has been accomplished, and the new 12-inch main laid down the steep hillside to the level of the city, with the least possible shut-off to the consumer.
It was not practicable to use the large trench digger in this work on the hill below the reservoir, the huge machine being too heavy and cumbersome to attempt moving it up on the butte where the reservoir is located. This work was therefore performed by hand, and the pick and shovel.
Also, on the north side, opposite the depot of the C. & N. W., on Saturday morning, Howard Helm, operator of the big excavator and digger belonging to the Gordon Company, put the power into his engines and turned the machinery over a few times to make sure everything was in readiness to begin operations. The entire mechanism, with the exception of a few minor parts, was found in ship-shape condition, and no delay will be required. A blacksmith familiar with all parts of the machine is kept on the ground at all times when work is underway., and Mr. Helm says, that after three years with the Gordon company he has learned that their operations do not lag for any fault of the company.
The new test well which was sunk near the present pumping plant has proven satisfactory in every way. A large flow of water was encountered at a depth of 75 feet. Below this the hole was sunk 25 feet further, making the test well 100 feet in depth, with a 25-foot depth of water. Work will be commenced now to excavate a large service well at the site of the new well and will be in readiness for use as soon as the larger pumping plant arrives.
The beginning of this extensive work on the new system has been the occasion of much rejoicing on the part of Lusk’s citizens who have been waiting the advent of this work before making their homes comfortable for winter. There seems to be nothing in the way of pushing the work to an early completion.
CITY BEGINS INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT
The Lusk Herald, July 16, 2021 by Alicia Louters
Lusk’s massive infrastructure project has officially begun, after a groundbreaking on Fifth Street, on Monday, June 28. The project includes water, sewer, streets, sidewalks and gutters.
“We have a failing infrastructure system, which a lot of towns in America do,” said Mayor Doug Lytle. “At some point it gets too expensive to fix the old, you might as well put in the new. We were getting to that point.”
Lytle said this is the first of six phases. Each phase is broken down into smaller phases. Each phase will take about a year, according to Lytle, but they are hoping the project can be completed in five years.
Phase one is from Third Street to Eighth Street from Diamond Street to Pine Street. A map of the phases can be found by visiting www.townoflusk.org.
“We’re taking care of the older, more at-risk parts of town first,” he said. “Some of the lines are over a hundred years old, so it’s time.”
Fifth Street is the first priority, because it leads to the Niobrara County High School. Lytle said the street should be completed by September 1 this year.
The town has been preparing and planning for the project for about three years. Lytle said funding has been secured from the State Revolving Loan Fund, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a one percent specific use sales tax. Lytle said Lusk has $18 million in one percent tax for the project.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of negative,” Lytle said. “People understood what was happening with it.”
This winter, the town had two water mains break. Lytle said once community members saw what was happening, most understood that the project was necessary.
Lytle said the head engineers are from AVI Engineering. About eight different subcontractors will also spend time on the project.
“Pretty much everything is going to look new,” said Daniel Bebo, project engineer representative.
Along with replacing existing material, several sidewalks will be added for safety. Fiber optics will be placed in every other street according to Lytle.
The project team will start meeting weekly with residents in the construction areas, so they know what to expect.
Houses will not lose water use during construction, according to Lytle. Because the water meters will be turned off, the town will absorb that cost.
The new water lines will be PVC, which has a 60-year life span. Lytle said the previous pipes were clay, which typically have a 50-year life span. Lusk’s pipes lasted well beyond that, some for 100 years.