Source: Sherman Publications

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Twp. must replace faulty well
Officials investigate who’s at fault, who should pay

by CJ Carnacchio

March 16, 2011

It appears one of Oxford Township's groundwater wells was improperly installed in a way that causes severe damage to pumping equipment and now, the municipality must drill a new one for an estimated $85,000 to $103,500.

Officials are investigating the situation.

"I am in the process of trying to get to the bottom of this and to find (out) who's at fault and if we can recoup the money," said township Supervisor Bill Dunn. "I don't know whose fault it is. I don't know if it was an Act of God. I don't know who's going to pay for it, but I'm checking (under) every rock."

Well #1, located at Dunlap and Granger roads, is "severely out of plumb and alignment" due to the way it was drilled, according to a Feb. 11 letter from Jody D. Caldwell, chief engineer for the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's Office (WRC).

"The well casing was found to be out of plumb by 23.76 (inches) at a depth of 170 (feet)," according to a Jan. 24 letter from WRC Assistant Chief Engineer Glenn Appel.

As a result of this improper installation, Caldwell indicated sand was being pumped through the defective well. The "detrimental abrasive effects" of this caused "excessive wear on the pump."

Appel's letter concurred. "We conclude that the well casing and screen, constructed by Stearns Drilling, was not constructed to industry standards and attributed to the premature wear of the pump," he wrote.

The WRC recommended the best way to correct this problem is to drill a new well at the same site.

Dunn noted that until the township can figure who's responsible and who should pay for the new well, the municipality will have to front the money because this has to be done.

"One thing we do have to do as a community, no matter what, is put a new well in," he said.

The WRC noted that the township's water fund has approximately $633,000 in "undesignated retained earnings," some of which could be spent on drilling the new well.

The supervisor explained that right now, the need for a new well isn't high because it's still winter and that's when the demand for water is usually at its lowest.

But once the spring and summer seasons come, and people start watering their lawns and washing their vehicles, the demand will increase dramatically.

"We do need this well working to be able to produce enough water during our peak demand," Dunn said. "Bottom-line is we need this well in service."

The WRC indicated it would be their goal to have the well "operational by May 1 to be available for the higher demand period," but first it needs the township's approval to proceed. The board put off making any decisions last week in favor of reviewing the issue again at its March 30 meeting, when it's believed more information will be available.

"I'm just a simple country supervisor trying to get through this without amassing a whole bunch of bills from consultants," Dunn said.