BTC drilling new well
Blackhawk Technical College had to shut down its drinking fountains last month and is spending more than $100,000 to drill a new well at its central campus.
The fountains were turned off because sand leaking into the well water can damage equipment.
Bottled water is being supplied until the new well comes online, according to a memo to the BTC Board. Students returned for the second semester on Monday.
The well water apparently has been safe, as confirmed by regular testing, Kaylen Betzig, vice president for learning support.
“We’ve been working with the DNR. Everything is fine,” Betzig said.
The board will be asked at its meeting Wednesday night to approve spending on a new well, which is nearly complete, Betzig said.
The old well was drilled in 1989 to a depth of more than 400 feet, Betzig said.
A sand filter was installed but provided little relief, Betzig said.
“We’ve been fighting this for a good nine months,” she said.
The well casing was cleaned over winter break, allowing a video inspection that showed sand pouring in through several cracks in the casing, Betzig said.
Betzig said officials had hoped to fix the old well, but the damage shown on the video was too severe.
A cost estimate for the new well, noted in the memo, is $119,365. The work went ahead without board approval under a regulation that allows emergency spending.
“We believe the new pump will not last, and the cost of cleaning and replacing damaged equipment and the exposure to suspending operations speak to the urgency of action,” according to the memo, written by Dan Hartstern, vice president for finance.
The money will come from the district’s fund balance, Hartstern wrote. A fund balance is a reserve of undesignated money used for a variety of purposes, including emergencies.
Betzig said the college’s original well was drilled in 1973. Water from that well was later found to contain nitrates, leading to a new well in 1989.