As if the City of Van Alstyne has not encountered enough water-related trouble this year already, news comes of yet another problem that an already stretched public works department has had to deal with.
Well No. 3, one of five water wells the city relies on for its supply, went down on Nov. 23. There were two culprits in the well’s demise — a defective water pump and old water lines that were cracking.
The problems on number three actually began over the summer. Over those hot summer months the well did not seem to be pumping enough water. Between pin holes and cracks in the pipe the water being pumped up was not making it to the top.
“It’s like a straw and you’ve got holes poked in it,” said Van Alstyne Public Works Director Steve White. “[The water] was going back into the well.”
Once workers removed the well’s pump they found out there was not enough water sitting on top of the pump to keep it working properly causing it to heat up and short out. The cost to fix the well, according to White, is $48,000. This is the total cost of the pump, new line and an outside company to drop 105 feet of new pipe. White said that his department only had $20,000 budgeted for well repairs.
The good new is that the well has been fixed and the city is waiting on lab cultures to come back to make sure the water gets a clean bill of health. Once that happens, the well will be turned back into the system.
All is not well (no pun intended) with the city’s water supply even after the return of No. 3, however. Another of the city’s five wells — Well No. 6 — is down and has been so since late July. No. 6 is a deeper well than No. 3 — 1,900 feet as opposed to 1,800 feet — and the cost for repairs, which include a new, larger pump, will amount to $64,500. The money to fix this well will come out of a $1.7 million loan approved by the Texas Water Development Board.
As far as timing goes, Van Alstyne residents got lucky. If this well had gone down in the extremely dry summer months there might have been a need for water rationing. As it sits, there was no need for that course of action.
White said it was a surprise that the second of the five wells had gone down.
“Usually wells don’t give you problems,” he said.
Part of the problems related to the water pumps are due to a declining water table. In other words, the level of water underground is dropping and causing the pump motors to burn out as they attempt to compensate.
White said to get on top of the situation he is contracting with an outside company to have the meters on the wells calibrated and check the depth of the water twice a year as opposed to once a year.
“We’ll see if we’re having a trending on how much water we’re losing over the summer and over a period of time so it’s not a surprise when we see our water table drop,” White explained. “It’s a preventive measure.”
There is also money in the 2014 budget for the department to have all the wells inspected by camera. This will give a view of the pumps, pump screens, water lines and water tables.
White said that the other three wells appear to be in passable shape.