Friday, September 5, 2014

A Unique Drinking Water Situation

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The Groundwater Foundation's hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska is home to a unique drinking water situation.
The City draws groundwater from 40 vertical wells, which are commonly used to supply drinking water. However, two additional wells, constructed horizontally underneath the Platte River, produce great amounts of water, which is then treated and piped from nearby Ashland, Nebraska. This is considered groundwater under the direct influence of surface water.
Why so far away? The water under the City of Lincoln is too salty for drinking. In fact, the first city-owned well for drinking water was drilled in 1875 and found to be salty; the artesian well became famous for its "curative powers, and people traveled from miles around to fill buckets and jars." Additional wells were dug throughout the city, but abandoned when the water became salty.
Recent drought led the City to install a third horizontal collector well to meet demand for Lincoln's increasing population. The new well became operational in July, and according to the Lincoln Journal Star, is one of the 10 largest of its kind in the nation. It has the capacity to produce 20 million gallons of water per day under normal river conditions.
Members of the NeWHPN tour the City of Lincoln's
horizontal collector wells.
The Journal Start also describes the well: "The horizontal well consist of a concrete silo 16 feet in diameter sunk about 70 feet into the ground to access the most productive layer in the aquifer. From the silo, well screens are projected horizontally below the river. its construction allows the well to provide at least 10 million gallons per day during extended drought conditions with low river flows."
A fourth horizontal well is on the horizon as well, being planned for completion in 2018.
The Nebraska Wellhead Protection Network (NeWHPN), facilitated by The Groundwater Foundation, took a tour of the collector wells as part of its meeting on September 4, 2014.

Is your community water system unique? If you don't know, ask! Every water customer has the right to be informed about a community's drinking water supply, and its quality. Ask for a copy of the latest Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to learn more about your drinking water. Find out more about the CCR here:

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