Work on a town well that already was inoperable in Crothersville has been halted after deep issues were discovered.
When workers with National Water Service LLC of Paoli took the motor out of well No. 3 during the cleaning process, they learned it had sucked up some rock that it shouldn’t have, and the well screen was busted.
The screen is supposed to keep rock and other items from infiltrating, Water Superintendent Chris Mains recently told the Crothersville Town Council.
“There’s about 3 or 4 feet of gravel at the bottom of that, which shouldn’t be there at all, so they know they are getting a bunch of gravel in there,” he said.
Also, a crack in the lining of the pipe is allowing some surface water to leach in, which Mains said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management considers a big no-no.
“So regardless, we are going to have to reline that if we use that again, and depending on how bad the screen is at the bottom of it and how much gravel is infiltrating, it may not be cost-effective for us to go in there to do that work,” Mains said.
The cost to repair the well is $6,200, while he estimates the cost to reline and install a new screen to be between $15,000 and $20,000. He said the latter range is still cheaper than a new well.
“The well was put in in 1974, so it has had a good run,” he said. “It has been our least-producing well in the course of the 10 years that I’ve been with the town. It has just gotten worse and worse as it has gone along to the point where I couldn’t use it at all. That’s why we’re getting this cleaned and worked on. This well has given us fits over the course of the last 10 years, so it’s time to do something.”
The council now needs to make a decision: Invest money into the well and have it relined but potentially still not have a very good producing well or invest in a new spot for the well that will make it better producing.
If the town loses the well and one of the remaining two wells goes down, Mains said they will be “in a pickle.”
Council President Danieta Foster said it’s probably more feasible to do a test well and start working on getting another one going.
Mains said 20 years ago, National Water Service did a study on a test well behind the wastewater treatment plant and had a good result. The town doesn’t have that paperwork, but he said the company would look for it.
The test well is west of a current well, and Mains said he would verify if that’s still on town-owned property.
Councilman Jamy Greathouse asked if the other two wells are in good enough shape that the town could seek quotes and look at multiple test sites to find the best spot for a new well.
“The way our two wells are set up now that we have, we’re pumping, we’re OK with that,” Mains said.
Brad Bender with FPBH Inc. said a cost-benefit analysis could be done on going with a new well and hooking into Stucker Fork Water Utility for a backup water supply.
Mains said the town already has a contract with Stucker Fork to purchase water for the industries in the industrial park.
Mains said he would try to have more details for the council at its next meeting, set for 6 p.m. May 5.
In March, the council approved hiring National Water Service to clean the town’s three wells at a cost of $10,550 per well plus $600 to run a camera down the pipe to ensure nothing is cracked or broken.
Since that work has stopped, Mains said the company most likely will just bill the town for the work that was completed up to that point. National Water Service originally installed all three wells.
Chemically cleaning the wells is common policy every five years, Mains said, and it was crucial to do the work to determine why well No. 3 was breaking suction.
Also, IDEM requires the wellhead protection program to be updated every five years. Midwest Water Resources of Springfield, Ohio, which did the last two updates, was hired again for $700.