Phillipsville’s only well runs dry

Phillipsville’s primary water source, a 35-foot deep well in a nearby flood plain, ran dry earlier this month and construction on a new well is underway but in the meantime water district customers have been asked to reduce their water consumption and boil water prior to consumption.

“If all goes according to plan, the new well will be certified and pumping water into the distribution system in about a week,” Phillipsville Community Services District business manager Julia Minton said in an email to the Redwood Times, adding that it could take up to 10 days.

“Long story short, we have two sources of water here in Phillipsville. One is a spring and the other is a well,” she said.

This is the first time in Minton’s five years with the district that the well ran dry.

“The well is pretty old, it was actually hand dug and it’s our primary source of water in the summer,” she said stating it accounts for about 75 percent of distributed water.

This is also the first time the well has run dry to Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell’s knowledge.

“It does seem counter-intuitive, with the winter that had so much water, that the well would dry up,” she said.

Neither Fennell nor Minton are hydrologists so they couldn’t say with any authority what caused the well to dry up but they guessed it may have something to do with all the rain this winter shifting the aquifer or landslides affecting the flow of underground water.

“The well has never run dry. I’ve been on the system for over 30 years,” Phillipsville resident, ex-water treatment plant operator and Phillipsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Hank Toborg said. He said his home is hooked into the district’s system but he gets his water from his own spring so he hasn’t needed to conserve as much as other district water users may have.

Once the notice went out, Toborg said he reached out to Redway and Miranda volunteer fire departments, who his department already had mutual air agreements with, to make sure they would be ready to assist if a lot of water was needed to respond to a fire.

“If we have a major fire, we might need them,” he said.

Minton said the 80 water users in the district have all been responsive to calls to reduce usage.

“As far as I can tell, folks have been understanding. I hope that they continue to be understanding through the hot weekend,” she said.

“They put up a conserve water notice and people pay attention,” Toborg said.

Fennell said the about 140 Phillipsville residents are lucky the spring and reserves in the water tank have provided them water while the well has been dry.

“From what I can tell, they have a significant water table in the area so they shouldn’t have much trouble finding water,” she said.

Work is underway now drilling a new 130-foot deep well about 15 feet from the original well, Minton said.

“I’m told that the well drillers are nearly at the 130 foot mark they were looking for and there is plenty of good water in this new well,” she said.

The project will cost an estimated $100,000, which is a lot for a district that only gets money from rate payers, Minton said.

“It’s going to be almost entirely paid for by the state with emergency funding,” she said.

More information can be found by calling the district at 707-943-1650.

Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.