As Ed Winslow says : "If we just knew what was down there we would know what to do." Gary Schwaver says, "The sun hasn't shone down there for a long time."
The "story" of the problems with well #2 in Wyoming as related by Don McCauley, Operator of the water plant and the wastewater treatment plant. He carries a Class A license for public water systems and a class one license for wasterwater treatment plants. He continually attend seminars and other educational times on the care and treatment of public water and wastwater systems.
The problem began in February of 2003 when a "turbidity" condition was found in well #2(I called it "silt"). 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. The first effort was to overpump the well. That is to draw more water than used on a daily basis - and to do it for six or seven days to attempt to flush out the cause of the turbidity. The well cleared - but right away was not clear.
Peerless Water Services, Dubuque, Iowa is the service that provides maintainence services to Wyoming. 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, abouit 200 feet of one and half inch pump shaft was pulled out, it it ended in 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 is 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.
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 compressers 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. Suddenly! A great amount of water came up it was estimated about 3000 gallons a minute. The area became flooded. A third pump was brought in. It was determined that old well not only had drifted off to the north and east, it has drifted back to the south and east and the drill had struck the old well and therefore the flood.
So it was decided that 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. And the drilling continued down the old well which was a 12 inch hole. On Friday, Oct 31the well reached 1389 feet. When it the drill struck something very hard. After televising it was thought to be old drilling tools. The drilling was then stopped, it was decided to put in an 8" sleeve to allow 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 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 Sinch 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 Sinch fail. (70 years ahead)
Records are being made of all the work done and will be filed for future reference.
This article was written by George Hirst in 2003, part of his newspaper column called Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores.