Tricky drilling conditions have caused the cost of constructing a new water well at the Bit and Spur rodeo grounds to exceed initial expectations, but city officials believe the expense will be worth it.
The Tooele City Council voted last week to pay Zim Industries, Inc., an additional $365,000 on top of the original bid to complete the new rodeo grounds well. The total cost of the water source now surpasses $1 million.
The increase will allow Zim to install a 500-foot-long pipe to reinforce part of the well and prevent it from collapsing until the continued drilling is completed. With the pipe, a 28-inch diameter steel casing, now in place, drilling has proceeded unhindered, said Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy.
The well, which is currently about 1,000 feet deep, was at risk of collapse because of excessive pressure from surrounding materials, said Tooele City Engineer Paul Hansen. This is a good sign, he said, because it suggests water is abundant in the area, but it does pose a problem while drilling continues.
Zim had previously attempted to keep the well open by pumping water into the hole to equal the outside pressure. However, the well had become so deep and the pressure so great that Tooele City could not provide enough water to continue the operation without putting city water supplies at risk.
Without the water or some other stop-gap measure, the well could have collapsed on the drill bit, forcing Tooele City to abandon the well and start the drilling process anew at a different location, Hansen said.
The well is anticipated to add between 1,200 to 1,500 gallons per minute to the city’s culinary water supply. With this addition and two other wells the city has recently installed — one called the Kennecott B well and a second near England Acres — Tooele City should be able to increase its culinary water supply by about 50 percent, Dunlavy said.
Funds for the additional work will come out of the city’s culinary water impact fees. These fees are paid by new homes and businesses that contribute to the fund from which the city can draw for projects such as the new well. The increase on this contract should not increase fee rates, said Dunlavy.
Though it is difficult to estimate completion dates on projects such as building a well, Dunlavy said he hopes to finish the drilling before winter this year.