Boiling and treating
Although wells suffice for watering cattle, they present complications for people in homes and businesses.
In Yale and Terlton, wells might be the only hope for water if Lone Chimney Lake runs dry. Yale leaders are banking on three six-year-old wells in case of an emergency. The wells are only 20 feet deep, and under normal circumstances, their water would need treatment to meet federal standards, said Yale City Manager Clara Welch.
Yet she said there would be no time to properly treat the water. Yale residents would have to boil their water.
“My greatest concern isn’t boiling the water, though,” Welch added. “We’re just not sure we can generate enough power from our pumps to provide water to the entire town. We believe we would have run our pumps continuously, and we’re not sure that is possible.”
Yale also is building a $650,000 water treatment plant scheduled for completion in August. That facility would allow the town to treat water drawn from wells during any shortage in the lake, but won’t be completed in time to help this summer should Lone Chimney shut down.
“Water is essential,” Welch said. “You have to provide water to your community. I’m concerned, but I would be a lot more concerned if we didn’t have those wells.”
Terlton also intends to gamble on drilling wells if the water from Lone Chimney Lake runs dry.
“We have a couple options,” said Jon Harrod, manager of the district’s distribution plant in the town. “We have four wells drilled, but they’re 20 years old. They were shut down years ago because the iron and manganese levels were too high. We’re hoping DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) would allow us to use those wells, but DEQ won’t let us know until if and when that time arrives.
“We can also drill two new, 100-foot wells. We could have those operational within a week.”
The new wells would come with a $75,000 price tag, as well as the risk of high iron and manganese levels.
“Personally, I don’t think it will come to drilling wells,” Harrod said. “I believe that Stillwater pipeline will be finished ahead of schedule.”