September 28, 2006

By Lisa Loomis

A test well drilled on the Reed Road is producing over 100 gallons a minute and is currently capped, pending further testing to determine if that water can be used for a municipal water source for Waitsfield.

The Waitsfield Select Board this week authorized spending up to $50,000 on further testing of the well, its impact on surrounding wells and the water table. The well is being undertaken as part of a larger town water and sewage project that could get underway as early as next year.

Engineer John Kiernan from Phelps Engineering came to the select board this week to discuss progress on the test well. The well is located in the town right of way on Reed Road. It is within the 200-foot well protection radius of another well drilled by Virginia Houston who owns a large tract of land off the Reed Road.

Kiernan told the select board that the town needs to do well draw down testing on the 12 wells that are within a 3,000-foot radius of the well the town has drilled. During draw down testing, water would be pumped out of the new town well continuously for a four or five day period while the static level in each of the 12 nearby wells is monitored.

"Will Virginia Houston let us monitor her well?" asked select board member Paul Hartshorn.

"It will be in her best interest because we're going to be drawing down the town well to see if it impacts her well. Our expectation is that she will allow us to do that; if there is no test, there's no legal recourse for her if there is an impact," Kiernan explained.

Kiernan discussed with the board the town's option of reducing a 200-foot radius it needs to own around its well by drilling two additional test wells down to the water table.

"That 200-foot radius you need to have around your well can be reduced to 125 feet if you can prove that there is no direct influence between the ground water and the aquifer. That requires two monitoring wells next to the Reed Road well and doing tests to make sure that the water table above the aquifer is not effected.  That way, instead of needing four acres of actual land around your well, you could reduce your needs to four-tenths of an acre," Kiernan said.

He said his firm had budgeted $3,000 to drill the two extra wells, which need only be down about 30 feet to hit the water table.

"You have a 50-foot right of way around the well. It's a true circle. The question is, does the town want to stay with the 200-foot right of way and buy the easement you need to create 200 feet, or do you want to bring it down to 125 feet?" Kiernan asked.

"Because of public perception, we'd better bring it down to 125 feet because we're going to have to buy the difference or have a permanent easement on the land anyway," board member Paul Hartshorn suggested.