By Gordon Hopkins
Drilling test wells for the City of Fairbury’s water sourcing project is expected to begin sometime this month, according to Project Manager Mary Renn. The project is intended to provide the city water with a lower nitrate content. Renn spoke at a meeting of the Jefferson County Commissioners on Tuesday, December 28, to discuss the next steps.
Fairbury currently has two water sources, Crystal Springs and the East Wells. Both water sources have consistently tested in the higher range for nitrates, meaning greater than seven ppm (parts per million) but less than 10 ppm, over the past several years. While the nitrates are in the higher range, they are still in compliance with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.
The city has entered into an interlocal agreement with Little Blue NRD (Natural Resources District) to cost share in a project to identify a new water source with nitrates ranging in the 0-3 ppm range, under the LBVWS (Little Blue Valley Water Systems) entity. Renn said, “There are four board members in that entity, two of them representing the City of Fairbury, and two of them representing Little Blue NRD.”
Representing the Little Blue NRD at the meeting was Scott Nelson, General Manager, and Kevin Orvis, Project Manager.
Renn said, “So the project is seeking to secure a water source northwest of Fairbury. And we did locate a targeted area where drilling will occur maybe the first, second week in January, and provided the water quality results are what the data suggests it will be, we’ll want to move forward with the project.”
If the project does move forward, the city will have to determine where to place the pipeline that will carry the water to Fairbury.
Renn said, “With that, we’ll have to determine where the line is going to be built. And I think that we’re thinking about putting a lot of things in the right-of-way.”
The location of the proposed wells is approximately four miles south of Daykin and the route of the pipeline would be about 14 miles. Orvis said, “The interesting thing about it is the engineer just looking at the elevation for the location of wellfield and our water tower, if he could size the horsepower of electric motors for the wells, he could lift it high enough and let gravity flow into the water tower. But that’s just based upon the elevation of the tower, the location. He’d have to find a route to get it back to the water tower where you don’t get too high.”
This means that the project would not require a secondary pumphouse to move the water. However, that will depend on the final route of the pipeline. Orvis added, “He’s not looked at that yet because we’re still waiting to see what the test wells look like.”
County commissioners indicated they are supportive of the project. Commissioner Mark Schoenrock said, “Well, we want to do all we can to cooperate and bring this thing to fruition.”
Commissioner Michael Dux said, “Absolutely. We will work with you every step of the way.”
By Gordon Hopkins