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DNR says City’s number two well has deficiencies; city ordered to stop using well

GLENWOOD CITY — The City Council learned from its Public Works Director, Doug Doornink, that the city was issued a “Notice of Noncompliance” for Municipal Well number two. The well is located on Water Street just east of the Community Center. There has been a well at this location since the city was incorporated.

The seven-page document that the city clerk had received listed 14 deficiencies at Well Number two, plus another seven were listed for Municipal Well Number three, which is located at Hinman Park.

Some of the deficiencies at Municipal Well Number two have to do with the building, such as doors that do not open outward. Others were addressed directly at the well and pumping equipment, such as the well has grouted casing down 25 feet while code requires at least 60 feet. Another item was standing water in the basement where at one time pumps were located which pumped from the spring in that area more than a century ago. All that equipment had been removed many years ago, but the basin is still there. DNR Environmental Engineer, Charlie Cameron wrote in his report about the basin. “This equipment was removed and piping was installed to allow the well to pump directly to the distribution system. The bottom of the basin was never breached and filled. Nor were floor drains installed to direct wastewater to the sanitary sewer. All the wastewater generated within the well house ends up in this unused clearwell. In addition, it appears that the basin walls may be cracked and could allow contaminated rainwater into it.”

He also cited the city, writing that the “generator is not being exercised monthly or under full load quarterly.” The city has a generator, which will operate the pump during a time of a power outage.

“While the City could evaluate whether the well can be brought up to code, it’s the Department’s recommendation that you construct a larger capacity well and abandon this unit. Since unused wells are not permissible, you will need to make a decision on whether you plan to upgrade it or formally abandon it,” Cameron wrote in his report.

In his letter, Cameron states: “Given the sanitary hazards, the Department is requiring you to remove the well from service until it is brought up to code.” He lists the items that are required to take the pump off line. But this all must be done by September 1, of this year.

Doornink addressed the City Council on this matter during Monday night’s meeting about taking Well Number two off line and that they would then be required to have a larger generator, one that would run Well Number three in case of a power outage. Doornink priced that generator at $75,000 to $100,000 and it would take two to three months to get. He also noted that there would be no backup for water if Well Number three went down. The water utility pumps from 75,000 to 100,000 gallons of water daily and the water tower on Third Street holds enough water for at least two days of normal use, Doornink told the council.

The DNR letter stated: “The Department completed the inspection in response to a fairground’s giardia case reported by the St. Croix County Health Department. While there is uncertainty whether water consumed at this property caused the illness, there were deficiencies identified during the inspections that need to be corrected.”

Information gathered by this newspaper has indicated that a person apparently drank water from a hose that was used to wash cattle on the fairground and later became sick. But it could not be determined if that water from that hose was the cause of that person’s illness. According to Webster’s Dictionary “giardia, is a suspected cause of diarrhea in humans.”

During the conversation with the City Council, Doornink stated that he had calls into well companies that may have worked on that well over the years to find out any information about how the well and casing are constructed. He said one of the officials at a well company told him: “You have a 545 foot deep well, that has never had a bad sample test. Why would you want to abandon it?”

After a long discussion, Mayor John Larson stated, “Do we spend $150,000 for a new generator at Well House Number 3 or spend that on repair at Number Two.” Council Person Terry Klinger noted that recently, “we had a DNR guy do all these inspections and everything was OK. Now we have a new guy and we have all kinds of problems.”

In the end the council favored having Kevin Oium of Cedar Corporation write a letter to the DNR asking for an extension of the time line to allow the city to get more information and formulate a plan on how they want to proceed. They are also requesting a face-to-face meeting with the DNR to discuss the deficiencies in their report.

Doornink informed the council that if they keep Well Number two in service and update the facility, it would have to alternate with Well Number three. He noted that they operated Number Two only several times a month. He noted that the well pumps about 250 gallons per minutes, while Number Three pumps about 900 gallons a minute. He said that they had both pumps running during the Glenhaven fire and the “Logghe” fire.