Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District officials have shut down Strawberry Hollow Well 3 after routine tests proved positive for E. coli and total coliform bacteria.
PSWID District Manager Brad Cole said the well first tested positive for bacteria in December 2012 after crews replaced the well pump and motor. The test was performed at the 300,000-gallon tank.
Strawberry Hollow has another smaller tank that stores 140,000 gallons and a secondary well that supplies the subdivision’s 20 customers
Almost immediately after receiving the tests results, the district shut down the SH 3 well. Cole remains certain no contaminated water ever reached the distribution system.
The test done was for “total coliform,” which “is used as an indicator that something else might be going on,” said Cole.
Total coliforms include bacteria found in the soil, surface water and in human or animal waste.
After shutting down the well, PSWID officials treated it with what Cole calls “two very hot chlorines treatments.”
However, attempts to get the well back on line in March were halted when further bacteriological tests detected E. coli.
“The well was not placed back into service and will remain off until chlorine treatment is added and several (clean) bacteriological test results are achieved,” Cole said.
In an effort to correct the problems, workers are currently removing the well pump and motor to hyper-chlorinate every surface of the well casing, column pile and pump and motor.
Officials, however, are not sure where the problem originated.
“It is undetermined if the well is the problem or it’s in the water aquifer,” Cole said.
Many homes in the area rely on septic tanks, which can pollute groundwater.
“It is unknown if there is any relationship to the septic tanks,” said Cole.
With summer rapidly approaching, Cole wants to safely get SH 3 back on line because “every well is needed during the peak summer months and holidays.”
In the summer of 2010, the PSWID board approved the purchase of the Strawberry Hollow Well for $450,000, which they hoped would boost the district’s water supply by 30 percent. Owner Loren Peterson originally asked $475,000 for the well, land, building and filtration system. The well was pumping at 20 gallons per minute, but thought able to pump 120 gallons per minute.