Hunt continues for arsenic-free water

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2006

In its seemingly endless hunt for drinking water with permissible arsenic levels, the city of Kenai plans to conduct a ground water study all around the city and drill an exploratory well north of town in an area known as Section 36.

The location of the planned well drew a quizzical look during Wednesday’s city council meeting from council member Linda Swarner, who asked why a drinking water well is being drilled near a former landfill site.

City Manager Rick Koch explained that the test well would be drilled to sufficient depth to not have interference from the former dump.

In a letter to the city, consulting engineer Bill Nelson said exploratory wells drilled along Togiak Street in east Kenai produced arsenic levels exceeding the maximum containment level permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Section 36 is a previously unstudied area of the city and may hold a suitable source of water, according to Nelson’s letter.

He is proposing the well be drilled to 200 feet by a subcontractor. Wm. J. Nelson and Associates will monitor the project, collect and expedite well sampling and laboratory testing and provide a summary report of the drilling.

The council agreed unanimously to have the exploratory well drilled and studied at a cost not exceeding $28,052.

The council also gave the OK to a $35,850 arsenic ground water study.

In attempts to find areas of the city with good potable water, there has never been a comprehensive study of where the arsenic deposits are, according to Koch.

To meet EPA standards that went into effect at the beginning of this year, drinking water must have arsenic levels not exceeding 10 parts per billion.

Landowners will be contacted to obtain permission to test existing wells in areas of the city that have not been sampled previously or where gaps exist in the available data.

Hattenburg Dilley and Linnell Engineering Consultants of Anchorage hopes to get permission to test 30 well sampling sites. All 30 will be tested for arsenic and 10 samples will be analyzed for iron, calcium, phosphate and to determine alkalinity.

In a proposal letter, geotechnical engineer Lorie M. Dilley said well sampling will take about one week after permission is granted from landowners, and lab analysis takes between two and three weeks.

A draft of the final report will be delivered to the city within six weeks of lab analysis completion.

In other business, the council

· awarded a $72,315 contract to Foster Construction for Kenai Municipal Park improvements, including upgrading trails, putting in a service road toward the back side of the park and erecting a picnic shelter;

· set a public hearing for Aug. 16 on the proposed Shamrock Circle paving special assessment district and

· gave support to an amendment to the city’s debris and junk ordinance on its first reading. The amendment, which is to be voted on at the next council meeting, provides precise definitions for what constitutes junk or litter in Kenai.

Included as junk are appliances, building material, chemicals, equipment, furniture, machinery and metal that “cannot without further alteration and reconditioning be used for their original purposes.”

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