The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) governing board has voted unanimously to begin drilling yet another well about 700 feet from the original Milk Ranch well site.
At a March 17 board meeting, board chairman Gary Lovetro led a discussion on the possibility of a new well saying it is located on a parcel owned by PSWID and the site was discovered while the district was developing the original Milk Ranch Well. The original well, which draws water from a deep aquifer known as the Martin Formation, is located a few hundred yards behind Pine Hardware south of the Beeline Highway.
Tucson geologist Chuck Dickens has said the original well can be pumped at a maximum rate of about 85 gpm and will ultimately add 130,000 gallons of water per day to the PSWID system.
No estimates have been made on what volume any possible new well would produce.
Following the Lovetro-led discussion, Ralph Bossert of Verde Engineering presented “Second Well Development and Connection to Milk Ranch Well Project” in which he described some of the problems development could possibly face including the location of the well site in the Pine Creek floodway, nearby septic tanks and easements.
If developed, the well would be connected to the 20,000-gallon storage tank planned for the original Milk Ranch well site.
Bossert estimates it would take about $164,530 to develop the second well and that amount includes a 15 percent contingency.
Board member Mike Greer made a motion to allocate $165,000 to the project. It was seconded by Lovetro and passed 7-0.
Lovetro then asked District Manager Danny Stephens to begin work on the project.
The board chairman is calling the possibility of a second well, “exciting news.”
The original Milk Ranch Well, which was drilled by Ray Pugel and Robert Randall, was sold Jan. 20 to PSWID for $400,000 and the rights to 50 residential and two commercial meter hookups.
However, the watchdog group Water for Pine Strawberry and its spokesman Sam Schwalm estimates the cost of getting the well up and running could approach $1 million.
That estimate is based on past expenditures to improve and repair the well, the $400,000 cash, value of the free meters, connection costs to the existing system and the purchase of a new 25-horsepower pump to replace one that burned out.
While the cost of purchasing the Milk Ranch Well has been a topic of debate, work on it continues.
Stephens said at the board meeting that about 80 percent of the final engineering stages of the well have been completed.
When final engineering reports are in, Stephens added, construction applications would be submitted to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for approval.
He estimates it will take a few weeks to receive approval but as soon as the OK is given, work on connecting the well to the system will begin.
The Milk Ranch Well, when up and running, will be the second deep well from which PSWID can draw water.
In August 2010, the board voted to approve the purchase of the Strawberry Hollow Well for $450,000, which is boosting the district’s water supply by 30 percent, according to some estimates.