Two wells dry: Truckee utility holds hearing
Their wells drying up or water levels dropping to worrisome depths, a handful of angry Truckee residents plan to seek answers tonight at a meeting of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District board of directors.
The wells of two residences on tree-lined Prosser Dam Road off Highway 89 North have dried up, and four others are rumored to have stopped producing drinking water, said longtime Truckee resident Maribess Johnson.
“Prosser Dam Road is running dry,” Johnson said.
Blaming the dry wells on drought or a dry climate is not a sufficient explanation to Johnson or a few of her neighbors.
In a phone interview, an upset Robert Davis attributed dropping well levels to the 1 million gallons of well water that the nearby Grey’s Crossing development pumps daily to use for irrigation.
“It’s obvious that the golf course is taking my water,” Davis said. “I had the strongest well on the block. I’m so mad I don’t know what to do.”
Davis’ well was at least the second well to dry up in the Prosser area; the first belonged to his neighbor, 23-year Prosser resident Bob Yoder.
Yoder’s first well was 125 feet deep and went dry five weeks ago. He re-drilled a new well to 275 feet, which now produces plenty of water. The Truckee real estate agent said he thinks the golf course watering takes away from other area wells.
“My layman’s thought is that if you’re sucking it [water] up from downhill, it will fill in from uphill,” he said. “We’ve had one dry winter; we’re not in a drought.”
Water Utility Manager Ed Taylor disputed Yoder’s layman’s view, saying water aquifers do not work that way. The area’s aquifers run deep and the district’s 12 wells do the same ” 1,100 to 1,200 feet to be exact.
Taylor said local aquifers are found at three depths or zones: 100 to 200 feet, 300 to 600 feet and 700 to 1,100 feet.
“The golf course does not take groundwater,” the district’s top water engineer emphasized, explaining that Grey’s Crossing extracts water from the deeper zones.
The district pumps water from the bottom two zones and leaves the top level alone for two reasons.
Taylor said shallower district wells might be affected because of the large amount of water the district obtains from wells, 8,700 acre-feet or about 3 billion gallons in 2005 alone.
“Plus, it’s not a high-yield aquifer; it’s a low-yield aquifer,” he said.
Taylor added that water in the shallower aquifer does not move very fast, making it more difficult to replenish when it is depleted. The district conducts sustainability tests before drilling new wells to ascertain how much water can be pumped out without drawing down the aquifer.