Pine Water Search Changes Direction

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To quench the thirst of the communities to the north, the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District had hoped to investigate whether one of the Pine Water Company's existing test sites could produce more water.

If the site proved to be a viable water source -- producing at least 500 gallons per minute if drilled deeper -- the district's board would secure funds to build a deep well, then sell the well back to the company, recouping the tax dollars spent on the project.

Now that option seems to be unavailable to pursue.

Board member Gary Sherlock said he heard Brooks Utilities had put the well into production to have enough water to meet the community's needs over the Independence Day holiday, so the test site is no longer available for investigation.

"I expect (PSWID board member) John Breninger is going to make a motion at Thursday's meeting to set aside this option and move to evaluate the next option," Sherlock said.

Breninger could not be reached for comment at press time.

Concerns about the proposal had been raised from other quarters, including the county. There was a question about whether or not the district could use tax dollars to improve private property. Another element at issue is doubt about the geologic and hydrologic theories. -- Some think a deep well would drain water from the more shallow wells. All studies to date have indicated this does not happen, Sherlock said.

But with the expected change in direction, those concerns are moot, Sherlock said.

The decision on priorities for new water sources was made June 16.

The second choice is to investigate another site for a deep well in the northwest corner area of Strawberry.

The well would be 2,190 feet deep, preliminary investigation of the site, made in order to present it as an alternative included the following information:

  • site offers high reliability water supply, rated "good" by committee (between 300 and 500 gallons per minute production is anticipated)
  • pumping at this site offers least well loss and drawdown
  • site location fully qualifies for legal drilling permit
  • site is near an existing power substation
  • a storage tank is already in place
  • site is on private land
  • complex property negotiations and related cost uncertain
  • unknown if water suppliers would buy water
  • unknown what objections environmental groups might raise

The estimated cost to drill the well is about $3.8 million.

In other business Thursday, Sherlock would like the board to consider making a formal determination about whether the community is in a water shortage at present.

He said there is a debate among residents. The Pine Water Company has designated the community at a Stage 1, meaning there is no water shortage. Yet, people are still experiencing problems.

"Results of a detailed evaluation done by the PSWID have revealed a considerable overall water shortage," Sherlock said. "The board will continue to pursue a valid source of water for the community."

The PSWID will meet at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21 at the Pine Cultural Hall.

The meeting is open to the public.

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