For most of the year, the city of Soldotna needs between 500,000 and 700,000 gallons of water a day for its 3,750 residents, but during peak demand summer months, the city must respond to the needs of a city of 9,000.
Right now, Soldotna has three drinking water wells that can produce 1.7 million gallons a day, just enough to meet the peak summer demand, but should something go wrong, the city would fall short of its needs.
Last week, the Soldotna City Council took a first step toward resolving the situation by scheduling a public hearing on an ordinance appropriating a state legislative $210,000 grant for a new well.
The grant, officially designated for “public improvements,” is intended for drilling a new well, near the Soldotna Sports Center and for rehabilitating Well B and its well house on North Aspen Drive.
According to City Manager Tom Boedeker, 10 months out of the year, any two of the city’s three wells can produce enough drinking water that meets arsenic level limits, but during summer months, the city needs all three wells.
Boedeker said the city has a 1.4 million-gallon reservoir, but if the smallest of the three wells were to go out, the city would have four to five days until the reservoir ran dry.
If a well pump were to burn out and the city needed to wait four or five days to get repair parts, the reservoir would be emptied, he said.
“What we need now is a reserve capacity well of 300,000 gallons ... minimum,” he said.
Boedeker also said Soldotna has plenty of water supply, but not all of it meets allowable standards such as arsenic level limits.
Water coming into a well also can bring with it high levels of iron, manganese and magnesium.
During the off season, Boedeker said the demand for water is between 500,000 and 700,000.
“That kicks up to about 1.1 million gallons when people start letting their water run a little to prevent pipes from freezing,” Boedeker said.
Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake has recommended contracting with Coble Geophysical Services to investigate underground aquifers in the sports center area to determine the best spot for drilling a new well.
The city shut down a fourth city well it had in that area due to a decline in production flow from the well.
Coble is familiar with problems with that well and is informed about the aquifer in that area, according to Bonebrake.
What needs to be determined is if the well flow problems were due to the well itself or due to underground materials found in the aquifer.
An investigation to answer those questions is estimated to cost about $19,000.
The city council set the matter for a public hearing at its Dec. 14 meeting.
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