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Elkhorn upgrading water facilities

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Darryl Enriquez
April 3, 2011
— More people means Elkhorn will need more water.

The 2010 census showed Elkhorn's population has ballooned past 10,000, a 38 percent spurt since 2000.


By 2030, the city's peak water consumption is expected to reach 6 million gallons a day, consulting engineer Doug Snyder said.


The city plans to spend $9.2 million for two new high-capacity wells in Lafayette Township, including $120,000 to buy 15 acres where the two wells would be drilled with space for a third well in the future.


The objective is to replace three aging wells on Centralia Street that state water regulators say are vulnerable to nearby groundwater contamination caused by spills of cleaning fluid from an industrial firm, Snyder said.


In addition, equipment at the Centralia Street water plant is outdated, Elkhorn Administrator Sam Tapson said.


"It's a matter of putting in place a state-of-the-art water facility," Tapson said.


The city uses about a million gallons of water every day, but it must have the capacity to produce 2.1 million gallons during peak demand even if the largest well is shut down, according to state policy.


The city's four wells—4, 6, 7 and 8—together can produce just below 3 million gallons daily. The two new wells would boost production to about 4 million gallons daily.


The new wells would be drilled northeast of the city, near Cobb Road and Highway 11, on property now owned by the Ronald and Mary Simons Family Trust.


It is one of the few sites around the city that is undeveloped and not contaminated, Tapson said.


The city council has agreed to pay the Simons Family Trust $8,000 per acre, contingent on acquiring well permits from the state Public Service Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources. Representatives of the trust have agreed to the purchase price.


The city council also agreed to pay the Simons Trust $2,500 for attorney fees. The city has yet to decide if it intends to annex the 15 acres.


Plans call for drilling wells 9 and 10 in 2013, building a water treatment plant in 2014 and having wells pumping water by 2015.


The $9.2 million water project cost includes:


-- Two new wells.


-- A water treatment plant.


-- Miles of water pipe.


-- Storage for 1 million gallons of water.


-- The 15 acres from the Simons Family Trust.


Financing will be through long-term borrowing, Tapson said.


A third deep well, well 11, is planned for the site when additional water is needed to keep pace with city growth, Tapson said. It would cost an additional $3 million.


The next task is getting well permits from the state. With permits, the city could launch work on new deep wells 9 and 10 that are projected to be operating within four years.


The city's consulting engineering firm, Baxter & Woodman of Burlington, will be paid about $85,000 to acquire the state permits, design the wells and perform surveys for the properties and utilities.


"I'm expecting the studies to be done by the end of April," Snyder said.


Lee Bouchon, DNR chief of public water supplies, said permits are issued when state officials are satisfied there is enough distance between wells and contamination sites, such as a landfills and sanitary sewers.


The state also checks that appropriate equipment is used to drill wells and examines potential impacts on nearby municipal wells.


New wells must not disturb wetlands and outstanding resource waters, such as trout streams, Bouchon said.


Tapson said the Simons site is one of the few spaces in or around Elkhorn that meets DNR clean water requirements.


The two new wells would replace wells 4 and 5, opened in 1931 and the 1940s, respectively, and well 6 opened in 1965.


Wells 4 and 6 would be closed when the two new wells are operating, Snyder said. Well 5 already is off line.


Two of the city's newer wells are well 7 opened in 1995 and well 8 opened in 2007. The two wells are located at the county complex on County NN.


ELKHORN WELLS

Elkhorn city water is pumped from four wells. A plan under consideration would replace two active wells and one inactive well with two new wells and plans for a third new well in the future.


Here is a rundown on Elkhorn's past, present and future wells:


-- Well 1 is no longer used.


-- Well 2 is no longer used.


-- Well 3 is no longer used.


-- Well 4, located on Centrailia Street, is 1,648 feet deep, began operation in the 1931 and pumps 900 gallons per minute. It would be closed under the city's plan because state water regulators say it is vulnerable to nearby contaminated groundwater originating from an industrial site.


-- Well 5, located on Centrailia Street, is 1,500 feet deep and began operation in the 1940s. It once pumped 820 gallons of water per minute but is now off line because state water regulators say it is vulnerable to nearby groundwater contamination.


-- Well 6, located on Centrailia Street, is 1,500 feet deep, began operation in the 1965 and pumps 820 gallons of water per minute. It would be closed under the city's plan because state water regulators say it is vulnerable to nearby contaminated groundwater.


-- Well 7, located on the county complex land on County NN, is 1,865 feet deep, began operation in 1995 and pumps 850 gallons of water per minute.


-- Well 8, located on the county complex land on County NN, is 1,801 feet deep, began operation in 2005 and pumps 800 gallons of water per minute.


-- Well 9, planned for at a location near Cobb Road, under the city's plan would begin pumping water in 2015.


-- Well 10, planned for at a location near Market Street, under the city's plan would begin pumping water in 2015.


-- Well 11, planned for at a location near Highway 12, is not yet scheduled to be drilled.



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