In a recent guest column, Ray Pugel talks about the Milk Ranch Well and some comments I made about filtration. It is evident that he is unable to offer objectivity when it comes to said turbid well that he previously owned, and for which PSWID later paid a handsome sum.
In May 2010, Tetra Tech and PSWID Hydrologist Mike Ploughe were forced to resign. Their crime was identifying the need to filter the water from Milk Ranch Well. Mr. Pugel claims that it would not have made sense to put filtration in a well that PSWID didn’t own at the time. That was never proposed. Filtration was part of the estimated cost for connecting the well AFTER it was purchased. Unfortunately he mixes numbers from two different sources to make the costs being considered at the time look considerably larger than they were.
Tetra Tech estimated cost of filtration was listed at $50,000 to $150,000, with $120,000 as likely. Estimates indicated these were rough numbers that would be refined, once water quality analysis was completed. The $565,000 number Mr. Pugel used was culled from a McCandless Engineering memo that addressed numerous possibilities from the worst case $565,000 to the best case $107,000. Key point, estimates were for filtering the water to a turbidity of less than 1 NTU, typical for water systems in the U.S.
Mr. Pugel compares $120,000 estimate to the $32,000 that PSWID just committed for purchasing a filtration system. Current PSWID filtration has a goal of less than 5 NTUs i.e., less clean, less cost. PSWID filtration has yet to be tested for effectiveness, and should second stage filtration be required, the cost will be around $100,000.
As regards Mr. Pugel’s definition of “due diligence” the truth is it was to ignore the recommendation for filtration, and get rid of the employees/board chairman that suggested it. Interestingly enough, another local water system drilled a deep well around the same time. During their due diligence, they discussed water quality, listened to recommendations and installed a filter in their well to protect water quality and pumps. They listened to the experts back then, and we got muddy water and Band-Aids because PSWID wouldn’t!