Exeter introduces water from Well 6 back into the system


Exeter introduces water from Well 6 back into the system after clearing it of nitrates and E. coli

By Paul Myers

EXETER – City staff and the City Council in Exeter are still wading through water infrastructure quandaries. But for now they have answered one question that has plagued public works for over a year: how to get Well 6 back on line.

Well 6 at Brick House Park on the corner of Palm and G has been a thorn in the side of the public works director Daymon Qualls since the summer of 2017 when it was deemed unsafe for use because of nitrates and E. coli. Problems for City water only got worse when Well 13 went down at Park Place. The lack of water in the system when temperatures started rising left residents with next to no water pressure. Things went from bad to worse when a water main on Kaweah burst and left residents and businesses boiling their water for a weekend.

But the water main was repaired in a relatively fast amount of time and Well 13’s production brought much needed water and water pressure to residents. All that was left was to find a way to sanitize Well 6. Earlier this year Qualls said he was working with Phil Mirwald, a 36-year water expert now retired from Cal Water and has worked on problems such as these before.

“We couldn’t have accomplished bringing this well backon-line without Phil’s help. When we hired Phil to help evaluate and improve the City’s water system, I asked him make Well 6 his top priority and that’s exactly what he did. In just a few short months, he along with Kaweah Pump Co. and Central Cal Waterworks, developed a plan to sanitize and completely rehabilitate the well site. The methodical and systematic approach he took on this project was quite impressive,” Qualls said

According to Mirwald the problem with Well 6 all began when it was changed from an oil lubed pump to a water lubed pump. He says when they started to send samples to the state agency that manages clean and safe drinking water the samples were not meeting state standards.

How the well got contaminated is just a guess though, because wells are supposed to be sealed before they are put into production. But Mirwald guesses the well was contaminated from the surface becuase of a poor seal.

“You don’t want anything from our environment getting in there,” Mirwald said.

He added that it was a priority to ensure the well was properly sealed now so fertilizers, weed sprays or any other type of organism is not introduced into the water. And now that Well 6 is back on line and producing approximately 650 gallons per minute, it is a regular part of public work’s job to ensure the seal on the well is safe and secure along with the chlorine levels.

When Mirwald came to work for Exeter in May his goal was to help clean the well. That meant he would pump water from the ground to the top of the well and then “super chlorinate” it and then let the water down to a static level of 120 feet. However, to remove the chlorine Mirwald had to “flush” the well several times leading to an untold amount of water being pumped from the ground and into the City’s storm drain system. Mirwald said that it was unfortunate to have to pump out thousands of gallons of water from the ground but it was nonetheless necessary to clear the well of bacteria and chlorine.

Qualls said that Well 6’s production significantly improves the City’s water production capability and provides some head room in terms of meeting peak demand.

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