Test well costs BCWA $62K

Published 4:42 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

A test well drilled in hopes of discovering a new source of water for Greenville and surrounding areas will cost the Butler County Water Authority approximately $62,126, according to figures released by the BCWA on Monday.

The project, undertaken in January by the Butler County Water Supply District, yielded unusable salt water, but costs of the project was reduced significantly because the well was abandoned in its early stages, said officials. The water supply district is comprised of members from the city and county.

BCWA Chairman Lamar “Cot” Giddens said the water authority had earmarked $115,000 to the project; one-third of the estimated $375,000 the well would have cost had it succeeded. The actual cost, according to water supply district chairman Steve Norman, will come in under $200,000.

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Wesley Bass, of Artesian, said the supply district had to “cut its losses” with the well once the on-site geologist had determined the water’s quality. Officials were hoping to tap into the deep sands of Tuscaloosa aquifer. The county and city’s wells currently draw groundwater from the Ripley aquifer.

“It (the well) had to be sealed off,” he said. “They couldn’t just sit there indefinitely. It’s expensive for a rig that size to be on-site and cost-prohibitive. There was also the possibility that the salt water could have contaminated the water from the Ripley.”

Bass said the city and county each draw from three wells around Greenville, creating what he called a “cone of depression.”

“These wells continue to drop three or four feet each year,” he said. “It’s not as if it’s going to run out tomorrow. We have time. The only way you’re going to know is by drilling more wells.”

Bass said water as these pumping stations currently sit approximately 60 feet above the pump.

“It’s an educated guess as to how long it lasts at that level,” he said. “Pumping is what dictates how much the water drops…the question is how low you can pump before you have to shut the wells off.”