Owensboro Municipal Utilities will be replacing three of its 33 active water wells that supply the city’s drinking water.

According to Brad Howton, OMU’s director of production, five test sites will be drilled next week and from there, the three main wells will be determined from the geologic evaluation.

“We’ve identified five areas that we think the water is, from a quality standpoint, is good and, from a capacity standpoint, is strong,” Howton said.

OMU has hired Layne Christensen, the company that will drill the test holes, at a cost of $51,650.

Howton said the geologic evaluation assesses factors such as ground composition and the water table within the wells.

“We have existing wells in those areas so the infrastructure is already there,” he said. “So they’ll be easy to connect.”

OMU will be replacing three wells that are poorly producing and cannot be improved through cleaning.

Layne Christensen also received the bid to design and construct the three new wells for $531,172. The wells are drilled down 100 to 150 feet in the ground.

According to Sonya Dixon, OMU’s spokeswoman, it’s been three to four years since any new wells were created.

“This is an ongoing process,” Dixon said. “Obviously, wells don’t last forever. So we’re continually researching where we’re going next.”

The aquifer system OMU draws from allows it to operate a groundwater treatment facility as opposed to pulling from a surface water source, which would likely be the Ohio River. The wells are located near the river but the water undergoes a natural attenuation within the aquifer system.

“The treatment process is easier and not as costly,” said Howton about drawing from the groundwater collected in the wells. “…We are one of the few who have the opportunity to use groundwater, especially in the state of Kentucky.”

OMU’s peak demand for water is approximately 18 million gallons per day. Its capacity is about 23 million gallons of water per day.

Howton said OMU employs a crew that performs well maintenance year-round.

“It takes a couple of weeks to adequately clean a well,” he said.

OMU operates on a constant five-year plan, which factors in new wells.

Howton said there’s no concern about the water supply ever drying up.

“The biggest hurdle at this point is how many wells can you fit into a given area,” he said.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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