Residents of Pine Portal IV subdivision will soon be awash in water thanks to an OK from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality that allows the Pine Canyon Water District to begin operation of a 1,785-foot-deep well.
A 50-gallons-per-minute pump, which has been installed at the well site located near Moonglow Drive at the north end of the gated subdivision located on the outskirts of Pine, will begin pumping water into district tanks in the next few days.
District manager Harry Jones said the well could yield much more water than 50 gpm, but water district board members opted not to spend additional thousands of dollars for a larger pump when there is not the need for large volumes of water in the tiny subdivision that has 83 homeowners and 173 lots.
Jones also said the quality of the water coming from the well is excellent, mostly because of “significant filtration capabilities down in the hole.”
In a letter to Portal IV residents, board chairman Ernie Borgoyne wrote, “This was a long and sometimes frustrating experience with setbacks and delays.
“I am certain we will look on this as a wise investment for Portals IV property owners as well as the Pine-Strawberry community.”
He also thanked Jones for his outstanding leadership in acquiring the funding for and management of this extremely complex project.”
The well was drilled with $625,000 in federal stimulus money, which included a $312,000 grant and a $312,000, 20-year, 3 percent loan.
Before construction of the deep well began in the fall of 2009, Portal IV depended on a 55-gallons-per-minute, 380-foot well that tapped into the same shallow water table many wells in the area draw from.
In addition to supplying water to subdivision residents, the Portal IV well will keep full a 250,000-gallon storage tank that firefighters can use in the case of a catastrophic fire.
Jones said the tank could produce about 1,000 gallons per minute for firefighting efforts. He also stressed that backup generators are in place near the tank in case of electrical outages, which in past years meant firefighters were sometimes limited in their ability to pump water out of storage tanks.
The Portal IV well is the third time drillers have tapped into a deep water table known as the Martin Formation, which could be the answer to longtime, chronic water shortages in the two mountain hamlets.
The other two deep wells, which are owned by the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID), are Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow.
Milk Ranch is not yet yielding water into the system, but construction applications are expected to soon be submitted to ADEQ for approval.
Strawberry Hollow was purchased by the district in August 2010 for $450,000 and is boosting the district’s water supply by 30 percent, according to some estimates.
The PSWID governing board voted March 17 to begin drilling another deep well about 700 feet from the Milk Ranch well site.
That would give PSWID three deep wells, which has prompted some water users to ask, “How much is enough?” PSWID chairman Gary Lovetro says a third deep well is needed to keep tanks full and supply the needs of water users. He estimates PSWID wells need to produce about 600 gallons per minute and if the district has three deep wells on line, they would be yielding 630 gpm.
Lovetro also says a third deep well is needed because many of the wells now producing water for the district are “shallow” and can dry up during a drought.
Also, he added, the district receives some of its supplies from water sharing agreements, which can be broken.
Water users have also expressed concerns that two wells as close together as the Milk Ranch wells could compromise one another. Lovetro says engineers have assured the PSWID board that would not occur.
Ralph Bossert of Verde Engineering is estimating it will take about $164,000 to develop the second Milk Ranch Well.