Price to go deep to reach water at Emma Park
Emma Park may be playing a big role in providing water to Price residents this year if a public works project goes as planned.
The Emma Park area is being looked at by the Price City Public Works Department for water wells that would provide another source of water for the area.
The project was discussed at the Price City council meeting on Jan. 12 and was the topic of conversation among council members and public works employees.
Currently the project is planned to have up to two different exploratory wells being drilled in the area. The award that was put up for bid stated that up to two eight inch diameter exploratory wells could be drilled. Depending upon the results gathered from the exploratory wells, up to two 12 inch or 16 inch production wells could then be drilled.
Bid submitted for the project came in around $2.4 million, according to Gary Sonntag, Price City Public Works director. Russell Seeley, Price City engineer, noted that the city has a total budget of $2.9 million for the project, which would cover any possible problems or setbacks that may occur. The Community Impact Board is providing funding for the project with a combination of grant and a loan, Sonntag said.
The project does have a deadline that must be adhered to. The state engineer with the water right has set a November deadline to show beneficial use, Seeley said.
Sonntag and Seeley, after consulting with an engineering firm came to the consensus that the project should be awarded to Layne Christensen Company, a Mission Woods, Kan., based company, that specializes in non-oil field contract drilling and manufacturing. Their water resources division offers a number of water-related services including hydrological studies, site selection, well design, drilling and well development, pump instillation and repair and maintenance, according to the company's website. Other bids for the project were submitted by Boart Longyear, Zim Industries and Nelco Contractors.
Compared to other projects the city has worked on before, Seeley said this particular project is unpredictable due to the unknown of what exactly lies below the surface.
"This is an unpredictable project because we don't quite know what were going to get when we drill," said Seeley.
The first part of the project will involve an exploratory well being drilled to examine what type of rock formations they will be drilling into and what kind of water they will find. The exploratory well will be a deciding factor as to what happens with the other well(s).
Depending upon what is found with the exploratory well, the city can go in two different directions with the pipe. If the soil and rock is solid, an uncased hole could be used, which is the cheaper of the two options. If the soil looks like it might collapse, then a cased hole would be an option the city could go with.
With the plans to drill down to a depth of 2,000 feet, one problem that can occur is with sand getting into the holes, slowly filling up the pipe. This can cause a problem with the well losing a lot of its efficiency when producing water. There is the possibility that the first 1,000 feet of the well could be cased and the bottom 1,000 feet could be left alone, Seeley said.
The city is having to drill 2,000 feet below the surface because the state water rights say that the city cannot take water from the top 700 feet. Only water acquired from a deeper depth is allowed, Seeley said.
Seeley told the city council that the engineers advised that the holes will not need to be cased, which would lead to the project costing less.
"We're hopeful that we can save a lot of money that way," said Seeley. "But just in case, we've got enough money in our budget to handle the worst case scenario."
Currently the city is working on securing access easements from local land owners in the area. Land owners are favorable towards the project, Seeley said.
The agreement for the project is contingent upon the acquisition of the access agreements with the property owners.
While the project is moving along in terms of getting started, there are still some issues that need to be taken care of. For one of the wells, well number one, the city and the construction crew would need to cross a small stretch of Bureau of Land Management land when reaching the well. For this to happen a paperwork and approval process would need to be completed.
Seeley said the city is looking into getting a permanent easement for the well pad. However things are still open in terms of what can be done, Sonntag said.
Councilman Rick Davis asked about what could be done with the land where the well is located and what the best option for the city may be. The city could look into a few options including an easement, leasing the land or purchasing it outright. One option the city is not looking to consider first is purchasing the land outright due to the possible consequences should the well not produce favorable results, Seeley said.
"We don't want to buy the land," Seeley said. "In the unlikely event that the well doesn't produce the water we are anticipating, we don't want to have bought a small island of property in the Emma Park area that we are stuck with."
The council passed a motion allowing the public works department to award the project as laid out by Seeley and Sonntag. Bids for the project were opened on Jan. 6 and the city has 60 days from the opening of the bids to award the contract, Sonntag said.
With the cold weather and the possible snow still in the forecast, Seeley said that waiting a little longer before starting the project is a better option for the city as the winter season begins to wind down and the access to the site would be much easier to get to in the spring and early summer.