What to do with Well #3? Council considers options

Posted 3/15/22

PRESCOTT – At the March 14 Prescott City Council meeting, the council discussed options for the reopening of Well #3 and the current nitrate levels in the city’s wells. City Administrator …

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What to do with Well #3? Council considers options


PRESCOTT – At the March 14 Prescott City Council meeting, the council discussed options for the reopening of Well #3 and the current nitrate levels in the city’s wells.

City Administrator Matt Wolf gave some background on an engineering report for Well #3.

“At the last Public Works meeting we had, CBS Squared gave us a breakdown of the options,” Wolf said.

CBS Squared project manager Jon Strand was on hand to explain the report.

“The primary issue here is with the nitrates climbing above the 10 milligram per liter level, which is the maximum contaminant level and so this well is currently not in use,” Strand said.

Strand presented the options the city has in repairing or replacing the well, in order to be able to use it again. The other two wells also have some issues with nitrate levels, according to Strand. They have not reached the contamination level, but they are seeing some increase in the levels within the other two wells.

“As you can see in this diagram, Well #2 nitrate levels are staying fairly steady, possibly increasing over the last couple sample periods,” Strand said. “With Well #4 we can also see that they are increasing … you can see it is increasing at a bit more of a rapid rate.”

Strand also touched on the radium levels in the wells; some of the levels have jumped up and back down over time.

“Radium varies a whole lot more and there is no real linear regression slope line that we can put on that,” Strand said. “Well #2 did have a higher sample that came back and was resampled and came back much lower, so there are flukes to radium as it goes up and down.”

Strand then went into some of the details surrounding alternatives that they can choose from. Alternative A is listed as not building a new well, which is not feasible due to the high nitrate levels in well #3. Doing nothing is not an option.

Alternative B is building a new well at a different site.

“We came up with two different locations within the city and they ranged from $1.5 to over $2 million,” Strand said.

The two least expensive alternatives include drilling the well deeper at the current location (cost of $688,721) or implementing a reverse osmosis treatment at the well’s current depth ($1,023,175). The council was most interested in the reverse osmosis possibility.

Other options would be to drill a new well at the existing site of Well #3. There would need to be a new wellhouse and sanitary and water main extension to the new wellhouse. The estimated cost for this option is $1.2 million. Another option would be to connect to Hastings (Minn.) utility at a capital cost of $4.4 million. The estimated cost annually from purchasing the water would be $205,000.

During discussion on alternatives for Well #3, they talked about what would be best for Well #4 because of the rapid increase in nitrate levels in that as well. They are considering the best options for both wells and hope to get ahead of the issues.

With the reverse osmosis option, it would take about a year and a half, possibly longer, before the well would be back up and operating at safe nitrate levels.

Mayor Dave Hovel said, “At this point our recommendation would be to go ahead and start thinking about reverse osmosis and we will plan for either a bigger plant or to see if it would make sense to have separate ones.”

The council decided to go forward with the reverse osmosis option, but they are still discussing whether they will have one or two plants for each well. The council plans to continue the discussion and make a decision in the near future on the best option to get the well back up and running. The presentation and full engineering report is available in the March 14 city council agenda packet posted on the city’s website.

Elm/Locust streets According to the meeting packet, the next streets on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) are to completely reconstruct Elm and Locust streets (sewer, water, storm sewer, street, streetlight, curb and gutter, and sidewalk along Elm Street).

The current plan is to survey the two streets in 2022, with the Elm Street reconstruction set for 2023 and Locust Street reconstruction for 2024. This timeline allows the city to explore grant opportunities in 2022 for the projects.

Cedar Corporation estimates that Elm Street reconstruction will cost $2,951,650 and Locust Street will cost $1,568,550 with a total estimated cost for both projects at $4,520,200. Elm Street would include a sidewalk on one side of the street as part of its redevelopment per the City’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

Seth Hudson, the director of economic and strategic development at Cedar Corporation, presented a $2,000 proposal to submit a grant application for the Elm and Locust Street projects through the WisDOT Surface Transportation Program (STP). If awarded the grant, the funds would be used to offset the costs of the Elm and Locust Street projects to limit the amount of funds that need to be bonded. The funds for the grant would come out of engineering costs from the Public Works budget for 2022.

“You have the proposal in front of you for $2,000,” Hudson said. “This grant would cover 80% of the work that is associated with the road, stormwater related to the road improvements, sidewalk, curb and gutter. It does not include water and sanitary.”

The council approved the $2,000 for the grant proposal.

Other business

The council approved a resolution for adjusting lot lines in lots 43 and 69 in the Great Rivers Second Addition.

Wolf said, “Lot 43, which is part of the Great Rivers subdivision that was approved, is looking to adjust their southern lot lines to add a slice and in doing so they would be taking part away from lot 69 …I n terms of review we did have our city engineer review it and there weren’t any issues with the utilities and no other issues were brought up.”

The council approved another resolution to divide lot 7 (between Pearl and Canton streets) into four divided lots.

“What is being proposed is that this lot will be divided into four new lots and lots 9,10 and 11 will become residential lots,” said Wolf.

Nitrate levels data graph presented by Jon Strand from CBS Squared at the Monday, March 14 Prescott City Council meeting. Graph courtesy of CBS Squared.