Expository 2010 2nd Place
Professor: Dr. Kurt Harris
How long can the human body go without water? One, two, maybe even three days-- but what happens after that time period has been breached? When a person does not drink water for even a day there are noticeable side effects such as delirium, irritability, and weakness. If continued, a person’s health will spiral downward leading to unconsciousness, coma, and death. Similarly, without water, a community will fall apart. So when a community is established, its first task is to find and develop water. As a community grows, so does its need for water. Growth comes to a sudden halt when water can no longer be provided for potential residents, as is the case in Teasdale, Utah. This complication presented itself a year ago because of a nearby, thriving community.
Approximately four miles to the northeast of Teasdale stands Torrey, Utah. Every Fourth of July, Torrey runs out of culinary water due to the influx of people, and, until a year ago, they did not know they were violating the law. Members from the Utah State Water Board came in and made the decision that Torrey needed to provide ample water for every residing citizen on any given day. So Torrey took out a loan for one million dollars to access a second water source. They were successful but have since declared a moratorium. When a city or town declares a moratorium, they can no longer construct houses due to lack of water. Teasdale’s close proximity has enticed those wanting to build in Torrey but can not because of the moratorium. Teasdale has plenty of open land and room to grow with only insufficient water resources as an obstacle to overcome.
Teasdale’s water comes from the Cole Creek Spring, which, in the winter, produces ninety-six GPM (gallons per minute) and drops as low as seventy to seventy-five GPM in the summer. Twenty years ago the equipment providing water to Teasdale needed to be replaced for greater efficiency. Since then a 200,000 gallon water tank has been installed, and now water is more readily available to the community. Approximately one year ago, Teasdale had 127 water connections remaining for houses to be built, which is a large number considering the overall population of 175. However, the rapid increase of potential residents is a concern for the Teasdale Water Board and their ability to provide each new household with a water connection. Teasdale can not provide for the high increase of homes being built, and a sufficient water supply must be developed.
Obtaining a reliable and sufficient water source is difficult. At one time this was relatively easy, but as populations increase, so does the difficulty of developing a water source large enough to provide for it. The Teasdale Water Board has recognized this problem and has been discussing possible solutions. There are two springs in the nearby area that can be developed. The solution may also lie in drilling a well in the Navajo sandstone formations surrounding the town, and there are also several reservoirs on the Boulder Mountain which could be used. Another previously used alternative is purchasing water from nearby towns by connecting to their existing pipelines. All the water board has to do is decide which option is the most beneficial and decide on a plan of action.
Developing water is harder now than it has ever been. Melissa Robins said that every drop of water in the state of Utah is filed on, meaning that whatever water source Teasdale chooses, it will need to be paid for. This may be a little confusing, but it is relatively easy to understand. When a town pays for water, it does not pay for each gallon it uses but for the initial share of the source. For example, a 100 GPM water source is what they have developed, and they pay for this share of water. After the share has been paid for, the water source can be used until it runs dry. No matter what, Teasdale is going to pay twice for the water it develops and uses, once for cost of development and again in the form of a share. To every water source available there is a drawback, so the board will make a decision depending on what possibility is the most cost efficient and which source yields the most water.
Dennis Hiskey, president of the Teasdale Water Board, said that the board is currently looking at two springs to develop: one located above town on Forest Service property and one located below town on private property. A spring can be very beneficial to a community because the water comes from the ground and requires no treatment. The spring below town is not the Teasdale Water Board's main agenda right now; the one above town is, because of its location. This spring is approximately one quarter of a mile from the existing pipeline, which would allow for easy access. The town would simply have to develop the spring and run a pipeline to the existing water line. Developing the spring would not be a difficult task either. They would dig down around the spring with a back hoe, set some wire screens in the ground, and then pack gravel around the screens to absorb as much water as possible. Robin Hamilton, specialist in charge of permits on Forest Service property, said, “Many towns in this area use springs as a main or secondary water source; they provide substantial water for a long period of time, longer than most people live.” The board members are enthusiastic about this possibility, but the irrigation company does not share their enthusiasm.
The spring above town belongs to the irrigation company, and if the irrigation company sold this spring for culinary water, this would mean less water for them. Farmers are just as concerned about the water shortage as the community because, if they sell a spring, it will be even harder for them to water their crops. The majority of southern Utah residents rely on farms and crop production to feed their livestock and make a living. It is understandable why the irrigation company does not want to sell the spring.
Another debatable option is to drill a well. I have drilled wells for Treasure Valley Drilling, and so I am able to relate both the good and bad aspects of this source of obtaining water. I have recently drilled a well which produced 600 GPM artesian, meaning no water pump had been installed yet, and 600 GPM was flowing from the well. This well took approximately three weeks to complete and proved very beneficial to the city of Star, Idaho, as a secondary water source. Teasdale also has great geological positioning for drilling a well because the Navajo sandstone formation has proved to yield water, and the town is built on this rock formation. If they end up drilling a well, they are hoping for one hundred gallons a minute, which is a minuscule amount compared to the well in Star but will more than provide for Teasdale’s needs.
First, the drilling company will have to drill a test hole to determine which area of the town will yield the most water. After the test hole has been completed, then they can drill the primary well. The conditions they find with the test hole will determine the depth of the well, the diameter of the well, and the depth to set the screens. Setting the screens at the correct depth is crucial in obtaining as much water as possible. Well drilling is very effective if the steps mentioned are followed with exactness.
However, well drilling can be a gamble because there are so many things that can go wrong. Whether or not a well drilling company hits water, payment is still owed upon completion of the well. The upside is that some well drilling companies will only charge half price if the well proves unsuccessful. Water can often be reached at depths of fifty to one hundred feet depending on the level of the aquifer, but I have drilled a well to a depth of one thousand feet reaching no water at all. Wells are time-consuming depending on what material is being drilled through, which makes estimating a completion date difficult.
The most difficult decision when drilling a well is finances. The well for the city of Star cost $250,000, which is relatively cheap for a city well. Teasdale is looking at $500,000 to $750,000 upon completion for a well in their small city. Most of this cost will go to travel because there are no well drilling companies within a hundred miles. In the end, drilling a well could be worth it, but is the Teasdale Water Board willing to take the gamble?
Besides developing a spring or drilling a well, another possibility is piping some of the water from the existing reservoirs. This has been done before and proved to be a reliable source of water. To successfully obtain water from a reservoir in the mountain, Teasdale would have to build a pump and treatment station. The pump station would be used to pump water to the existing pipeline and then to the city. Since the water is ground water, a treatment plant would have to be erected in order to chemically treat the water for sanitary purposes. This water source would be favorable because each springtime a reservoir will accumulate water until it is overflowing and provide water for the year.
Although reservoirs have been used in the past for a primary water source, they are not always the best alternative for a city. Even if a reservoir is full and overflowing, this doesn’t mean water will be provided year round. Occasionally a reservoir will go dry half way through the year, and then what will the city do for the remaining time with no water? On top of that, treatment plants can be very expensive, and these need maintenance along with repair on a frequent basis. Besides these drawbacks, this is another possibility for the town to consider.
In the past, water could be accessed from a neighboring city, allowing the two to share water. A connection could be made between Torrey and Teasdale. Teasdale could consider this a possibility if Torrey had not declared a moratorium. The only other town nearby is Bicknell, about ten miles away. So for all practical purposes, Teasdale is not going to pipe water from a neighboring city because of distance and lack of water.
With all of the possibilities in mind, a solution needs to be reached for growth to continue in Teasdale. Greg Coleman, vice president of the Teasdale Water Board, said, “I would like to see a solution where the buck goes the farthest.” Greg Coleman is a beneficial leader to the community because he is working towards the most cost efficient water source. Through research and weighing the most plausible possibility, developing the spring above town would be the best water source available to the entire community. The irrigation company is not going to readily sell the spring, but for them to make a profit each year there has to be growth in Teasdale. If there are no more water connections remaining, then growth will halt, and farmers will see no increase. The irrigation company is not currently using water from this spring, and the spring does not flow naturally to the area where it could be used. It is hard to see a spring go to culinary water, where it could have been used for irrigation water. However, farmers will see an increase in profit when the spring is developed and people begin to build again in Teasdale. The spring is the most cost-efficient, which is why it will prove to be a great water source for years to come.
Coleman, Greg. Personal interview. 30 Sep. 2006.
Hamilton, Robin. Personal interview. 24 Sep. 2006.
Hiskey, Dennis. Telephone interview. 28 Sep. 2006.
Robins, Melissa. Telephone interview. 24 Sep. 2006.