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Well? Well . . .
Irrigation district conducting test

Despite a moratorium on drilling new wells in the town of Twisp, the town council Tuesday after lengthy deliberation unanimously agreed that the Methow Valley Irrigation District could drill a test well in Dave Schulz’s orchard behind Hank’s grocery store.

photoProject manager Greg Knott is overseeing drilling of a test well for the Methow Valley Irrigation District.

The council concluded that the town’s moratorium language is silent on test wells and thus the test could be approved without violating the moratorium.

The purpose of the test is to ascertain if the proposed location of a well there could be tapped to pump water uphill to be held in a storage tank on Bill White’s property and used to supply the MVID ditch.

The aging ditch system is being upgraded to include piping of the now-open ditch. The MVID has been ordered by the state Department of Ecology to modernize its water delivery system to stop wasting water, and the National Marine Fisheries Service has ordered it to show by 2015 that it is not killing protected species of salmon or be shut down.

Trout Unlimited was hired by Ecology to manage MVID’s improvement project, and project manager Greg Knott, who is also chair of the Methow Watershed Council, apologized to the town council for requesting the last-minute approval—the drill rig was on site Wednesday morning and the site has to be evaluated prior to a Nov. 1 deadline. Knott said the town’s moratorium inadvertently had been overlooked.

He argued that the prohibition on drilling new wells applies only to production wells, not test wells, though Knott said under questioning from the council that if the test is successful, MVID will ask the town for permission to turn the well into a production well pumping 1,200 gallons per minute during the irrigation season.

“We have not decided that we can use the Schulz’s site,” Knott told the council. One of the reasons to run the tests is to see if pumping from the well affects other people’s wells, he said. “If it’s not suitable, we’re in a little bit of hurt,” he added. There are three other possible well locations further down valley but they are not as good, he added.

Twisp public works superintendent Howard Moss said the town has a well 1,500 feet from the test well site. “I plan to monitor our [water] production during your test,” he told Knott. If the town’s well is affected, he added, conditions would have to be put on the MVID well to curtail its production, “which could be a problem for the MVID,” Moss said.

Well logs will be put on nearby private wells to monitor any changes to them, said Knott. And he said that the test well, which will go down 200 feet or to bedrock, whichever comes first, will pump at 500 gallons per minute.

Asked if test pumping at 500 gpm will provide an accurate indication of the effects of pumping water from a production well at 1,200 gpm, Knott answered that the project’s hydrologist has assured him it will.

“I’d like to leave that well open for a year to use it for monitoring,” Knott told the council, but he added that “If you want it closed Tuesday, we’ll close it Tuesday.”

Two 12-inch, side-by-side wells are to be drilled for the test, according to information Knott provided to the council. Drilling will be done between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the three-day drilling project that was scheduled to end on Sept. 27. Pump testing is set for Oct. 1 and 2.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, the drill hit water at 40 feet but had to shut down due to broken equipment.


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