On Monday night, consulting engineer Stacy Watkins of the engineering firm Watkins & Associates briefed members of the Cairo City Council regarding the test well dug on city property located on Wight Road.
”We talked about going farther south on the property to drill in hopes of getting more water, but I did some more investigating and decided to drill deeper at the test well and see if we hit a water producing zone,” Watkins told city officials.
Watkins says the extra depth proved successful, and that his calculations indicate the deeper well could produce about 500 gallons per minute.
Watkins has stated in the past he would prefer a well that produced between 750 gallons and 1,000 gallons per minute. The original test well produced only about 150 gallons per minute at 600 feet. In hopes of finding more water, Greene’s Water Wells, Inc., drilled down an additional 180 feet.
The city’s consulting engineer says that older drinking water wells on the city’s west side, that have since been capped, produced in the 500 gallons per minute range.
Watkins says he is comfortable with drilling the permanent well and accepting the lower volume if the council will move forward with drilling an additional well in the near future.
Another option discussed Monday night was the possibility of expanding the capacity of a proposed new elevated water storage tank on the city’s southwest side. The new elevated tank will be constructed on property the city purchased near Washington Middle School.
Mayor Richard VanLandingham suggested the city would be better served to invest in an additional well rather than increasing the size of elevated tank.
According to the engineer, the cost of a new well is approximately $300,000.
”The plan has always been to have two wells at the plant eventually. Because of this lower water volume, we should just do it sooner rather than later,” Watkins said.
City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman quizzed Watkins about the projected volume of water from the new well.
The engineer noted that the 500 gallons per minute volume is based on an extrapolation. He added, “The draw down was not as severe as the first time we tested the well and it did stabilize.”
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas asked how far from the current test well would another well be drilled. He also asked if the second well hit the same aquifer could it cause the first well to produce less than 500 gallons per minute.
Watkins explained that the second well would be drilled about 1,000 feet away from the current test well. He says the city’s wells on the east side are too close together and the potential for problems with contamination is greater if wells are close together.
The engineer is not concerned with the second well negatively affecting the first well.
Watkins has met with geologists and reviewed maps of water bearing zones. “We should be hitting 2,000 gallons per minute like on the east side,” Watkins said, adding, “I feel like if we moved farther south we will find more water, but that’s an educated guess.”
Mayor VanLandingham agreed and commented about the varying volume of wells dug at nearby Monrovia Growers, where he was previously employed. “The wells at the nursery were very different. There are enough rock formations between them to cause one to produce less than others.”
The city’s consulting engineer also briefed the council on the city’s application for Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) funding to finance the construction of the new well, water plant and ground-level storage tank on Wight Road. A revenue bond was previously issued to finance the construction of the elevated tank on the west side.
”We’ve submitted everything to GEFA. Since this is a revolving fund type project and with the federal funds involved, there are certain requirements involved,” Watkins said.
Mayor VanLandingham asked City Manager Chris Addleton when he would be prepared to make a final recommendation to the council and the city manager indicated he could make one next month.
”Based on the schedule now and if everything is approved when could we put this project out to bid?” Councilman Douglas asked.
Watkins says the plans for the project are nearly complete and he has told GEFA as soon as the project is approved the city can put it out for bid.