Source: Sherman Publications

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Drilling co. to attempt well fix

by CJ Carnacchio

May 18, 2011

It appears the company responsible for drilling a faulty municipal well for Oxford Township is going to get an opportunity to literally straighten out the problem.

Last week, Supervisor Bill Dunn reported to the board that in an effort to avoid potential legal action, Stearns Drilling Co., based near Grand Rapids, wishes to attempt fixing the well at no cost to the township.

"They were happy that we called without the lawyers," he said. "They want to try to do whatever they can to remedy the situation. The county has been working with us . . . to make sure that their remedy is going to give us the amount of water we want without sand."

Drilled in 2004, Well #1, located at Dunlap and Seymour Lake roads, was taken off-line earlier this year because its casing is out of plumb by 23.76 inches.

As a result of this, the well was pumping sand along with water, the abrasive effects of which caused excessive wear on the pump.

"The biggest issue is the sand," said township Trustee Mike Spisz. "Sand getting into the pumps, destroying the pumps and reducing the life of your pump. The number one issue is to make sure that there's no sand going into that well when it pumps."

Dunn explained that although being two-feet out of plumb sounds like a lot for a well, it's not uncommon from what he's learned.

"In talking to (Stearns) they're very experienced well drillers they explained that it's not that unusual to be that far out of plumb, especially working in Oxford where you could run into a boulder the size of a car at any moment," he said. "As they're drilling down, it would be easy to go (askew)."

Right now, Dunn said Stearns Drilling is trying to determine how to best fix the problem.

They're trying to figure out where and why the sand is coming in, then they're going to try to redevelop the well at the bottom, the supervisor explained.

The township was originally ready to go with Oakland County's recommendation to drill a brand new replacement well for an estimated cost of $85,000 to $103,500.

Township officials previously authorized spending up to $105,000 to drill a new well with the understanding they would seek reimbursement from those responsible for the faulty well.

Dunn said giving Stearns a chance to repair the existing well at no cost to the community is "looking better than the township putting up $105,000 to drill a new well."

"We are not moving forward on drilling a new well until we get a handle on the fix," he said.

Dunn noted the county originally considered the option of just redeveloping the existing well, but they didn't want the township to spend $25,000 on the fix, "then have it fail," and still have to spend all that money on drilling a new one.

Spisz noted repairing the existing well is a less expensive option for Stearns Drilling as well as the township.