This column is being written as well #2 in Wyoming is being brought back on line following a series of efforts that will restore good water from the well.

There are lessons here for the citizenry of our towns who depend upon old deep wells.

It is like what was said to a fellow who thought water was free," the water is free but you have to pay for the piping." The major concern here is well casings, water pipes and pumps that wear out.

Ed Winslow, Senior Consultant for Schawver Well Drilling out of Fredicksberg, Iowa said, "If we just knew what was down there we would know what to do." Gary Schawver, CEO of Schawver and Co said, "The sun hasn't shone down there for a long time." These two men's knowledge of well drilling saved our water. I personally want to thank them for taking their time to educate me.

The other person involved is Don McCauley, Operator of the water plant and the wastewater treatment plant in Wyoming. McCauley carries a Class A license for public water systems and a class one license for wasterwater treatment plants. In February he recognized the problem and used his knowledge not only of how water delivery services work but also who was
available for helping resolve the matter. He spent a lot of time helping me to understand what was going on and I thank him for that.

We lost the use of well #2 in February of 2003 when a "turbidity" condition showed up. It consisted of clay and iron particles in the water. It was material the Reverse Osmosis treatment plant would not accept. There was no biological matter.

Let me immediately say that the loss of the well did not mean an immediate crisis with loss of water, but it was a threat because well #1 is older and might go down at any time. Well #2 was drilled by cable drilling which means a tool on the end of a cable was pumped up and down to drill a hole to where water was found. When the difficulty with the unusable water was found the first problem was a lack of information about the well and the pipes and other machinery that delivered the water. So Ed Winslow's
comment "we don't know what is down there" really came to bear.

The first effort was to overpump the well. More water than is used on a daily basis was pumped out for six or seven days in attempt to flush out the cause of the turbidity. The water became clear, but only briefly.

Peerless Water Services, Dubuque, Iowa, the service that provides maintenance services to Wyoming was called. They brought their television equipment and the well was televised. A "caved out" area was seen beginning at the 620 foot level to about 645 feet. It was that area that was producing the silt. A "bridge" or blockage was found in the well that closed the well off.

In March, Peerless brought a "sand" bucket to attempt to remove the blockage. The block was knocked out and the televising went on down the well. At the 700 foot level the pump shaft from the old turbine was found against the wall of the well. At 900 feet, there was something very hard. It was apparently a 6 inch pipe.

At that point Schawver Well Drilling Company from Fredericksburg Iowa came, in the attempt to "fish" out the old pipe and sleeve. With the equipment, about 200 feet of a one and half inch pump shaft was pulled out. At the end of the shaft was part of the pump. They redesigned the fishing tool and pulled out the rest of the pump and 20 feet of 6' inch sleeve.

Now came a question. Should the well be "drilled" out to the 1400 foot level or seal the well off at the 900 foot level and see if there was enough water to serve the city? The decision was made to try to see if the sealed area would work. With the seal in place - a pump was placed in the well and started. It became immediately obvious that there was not sufficient water to produce the necessary amount. It should be noted here that Toulon encountered a similar problem. Shan Milroy, Operator of Toulon's municipal facilities said that it happened twelve years ago. They were able to insert the "plug" and to continue with ample water.

With that failure, a 14" casing was put in down the 900 foot level and cemented in. This was done in September with a cable rig from Schawver. Ed Winslow, consultant to the project, designed a "whipstock" that was placed on the end of the casing. This was done because now the answer became "drill a new well" beginning at the six hundred foot level. It was determined that the old well drifted off to the north and east of a line straight down from the top. So the new drilling must be off to the east and south. (Please note this!)

So a rotary drilling machine along with air compressors to produce the needed 5000 pounds of air pressure was brought in, along with two pumps to keep the wastewater away from the operation.

So drilling the new well began. It was estimated that it would take two days to finish. A great amount of water unexpectedly came up. It was estimated that the rate was about 3000 gallons a minute. The area became flooded. A third pump was brought in. This flooding involved a lot of homes and business around the water plant. It is to the credit of Don McCauley and Gary Schawver that it became only a nuisance. The water was not "wasted" it recycled itself and went on to other places.

By the use of information involving soundings, it was determined that the well not only had drifted off to the north and east, it had drifted back to the south and east and the drill had struck the old well and, therefore the flood. Understand here that cable drilling does not produce a "straight down" hole. The tools follow a line of least resistance producing a wobbly hole. The drilling had to continue. A milling head was place on the drill and now chunks of iron, brass and rock came out of the waste water. A new drilling
tool was designed , reduced to 9 inch from a 11 inch. This moved the drilling down the old well which was a 12 inch hole. On Friday, Oct 31 the well reached 1389 feet. At that point the drill struck something very hard. After televising revealed what was thought to be old drilling tools. The drilling was then stopped, it was decided to put in an 8" sleeve to allow it to go down to a bed of gravel at the 1100 foot level. It would be put in and cemented in. Then the gravel would be drilled out, the pump put in place and the job would be complete.

There will be a period of pumping out water to flush the well, tests will need to be taken for bacteriological content, and some general checking to be sure flow is right before the well will be put on line.

It is interesting to note that the whipstock welded to 14 inch sleeve was drilled out and the well is now straight down. The 8 inch casing will be put down the sleeve to a 12 inch sleeve (the old well). It was noted that the 8 inch casing will allow for a 7 inch casing should the 8 inch fail. (70 years ahead) Records are being made of all the work done and will be filed for future reference.

All of this has taken time. Several difficulties were encountered and resolved. I believe that we can be grateful that these folks with their knowledge and skills have virtually rebuilt well #2. This makes our water supply more secure. When you open a faucet, you can know that usuable water will be there.

This article was written by George Hirst in 2003, part of his newspaper column called Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores.
Created by steve. Last Modification: Tuesday 24 of August, 2021 11:33:33 EDT by steve.