A 48-hour test will start Thursday to see whether residential wells in the area of 45th South and Seventh to Ninth East are going dry one by one because of large municipal wells.
David Ovard, administrative assistant for the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District, said the district agreed to stop pumping its well on 45th South between Second and Third East temporarily to determine what impact the district's well might be having on the smaller residential wells.A group of about 40 area homeowners told State Engineer Bob Morgan Wednesday they believe large, deep municipal wells in the area are drawing groundwater down below the level the residential wells can reach.
Morgan said the municipal wells could be contributing to their problem but said there is no conclusive data to show a direct relationship between increased pumping from the municipal wells and the choking residential wells. Morgan said he could not order any well owner to stop or reduce well pumping unless it could be proven a well was being operated above its permit capacity.
When asked by the homeowners what he would do in their situation, Morgan said he would either clean or deepen the wells so they could reach the deeper water - or they could buy connections to municipal water supplies. Morgan said his staff would expedite the necessary applications needed before wells can be cleaned, moved or deepened.
Most of the residents then complained they couldn't afford municipal connections or the cost of having a licensed well driller move or enlarge the diameter of their wells. With that concern in mind, Morgan suggested representatives of the group of homeowners meet with the conservancy district and Salt Lake City's public utilities department to see if the municipal entities would consider taking the large wells out of service for 48 hours to see if that brought life back to the residential wells.
Ovard said the residential wells aren't the only ones with problems because of the lowering water table level. He said the conservancy district stopped pumping one of its wells nearby, on 48th South and Third West, because its productivity was declining.
The district will monitor the levels in some of the private wells during the test, Ovard said.
Conservancy district General Manager Robert B. Hilbert said some of the homeowners thought the conservancy district well closest to their homes was new. He said it had been moved recently but has been used by the district since 1961. The well is not a big producer, he said, but was put into service for the first time this season July 8, about the time some of the residential wells started going dry.
Morgan also said his staff would research the well priority dates in the area to see who has the longest-standing rights for first use of the water. That information was expected to be available sometime Thursday.
Morgan said there are five large wells in the area; another one close by is operated by Salt Lake City.