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City wells see boost

WORTHINGTON -- As Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain presented the latest well update graph to Water & Light Commission members Monday afternoon, there was a collective cheer for the long awaited, anticipated spike in well levels.

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Static level readings taken at the Lake Bella well field last Friday yielded a significant increase. Submitted graph

WORTHINGTON - As Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain presented the latest well update graph to Water & Light Commission members Monday afternoon, there was a collective cheer for the long awaited, anticipated spike in well levels.

In what he said was an “unprecedented” increase for a Thanksgiving week, the static levels in Worthington’s Lake Bella well field rose by 3 feet, 7 inches in one well to up 10 feet, 1 inch in another. In Well 26, which is used as the gauge for the well field, water levels rose 6 feet, 5 inches. With the increase, the static water level in the well is still 3 feet, 9 inches below average - but 10 inches above the static water level in the well for Thanksgiving week of 2013.
“Historically, we’ll get a little bump (in static levels), a big bump and then another little bump,” Hain explained.

With the wet, heavy snow that fell Monday and is expected to continue through today, and rising temperatures expected to fuel a snow melt, it’s anticipated the static water levels will rise again next week.
“We were optimistic (for Friday’s reading) because of the rain we got,” Hain said. “Okabena was flowing out, Ocheda was flowing out, Bella was flowing out.
“We knew we were in a lot better shape when we started seeing water ponding in the fields,” he added. “I wasn’t convinced we would see a jump like this.”
A significant rise in static well levels is more commonly seen between March and June. In 2013 and 2014, heavy rains created that spike in static well levels, but then they declined over the course of the summer and fall. This year, there wasn’t a significant spring rain event, which was cause for concern.
That concern is starting to fade now. As commission members commented, water is flowing through field tile and sump pumps are running.
Still, there’s no guarantee in the weather and continued and timely moisture.
“When we start cranking up the deliveries from (Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water), how high do we take them?” Hain asked. “Do we go back up to a million gallons a day?”
The consensus was “yes.”
“We need to take as much water as we can until we get Lewis & Clark (Regional Water System),” said Commissioner Jim Elsing. “We need to keep those wells at Bella and draw less from there. We don’t know how much rain we’re going to get.”
“We’re feeling pretty good about getting through the winter,” Hain added. “We’re going to be in a whole lot better position come spring.”
In other business Monday, the commission:

  • Approved the electric department’s 2016 strategic financial plan. Retail rates will not increase in 2016.
  • Discussed current water purchases from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water. The city is currently purchasing half a million gallons of water per day.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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