Water district gushing over its new well

"Officials from South Kitsap's Annapolis Water District on Wednesday began test-pumping a newly drilled well they expect will satisfy their customers' needs for the next 10 to 15 years.We believe this well provides us with a reliable water supply for a long time to come, said Annapolis Water District General Manager Dennis Coburn. It's a real accomplishment in this day and age to find that much water and to have the permits to utilize it.The new well, located in the Salmonberry Well Field between Jackson and Harris Roads in South Kitsap, was expected to produce between 500 and 600 gallons a minute. But it is currently producing about twice that much.The aquifer we tapped into is apparently much larger than originally thought, Coburn said.Just as importantly, the agency already has permits in place to handle this much water from this particular well.For environmental reasons, Coburn said, the state currently isn't processing new applications for water rights. You can't get a new permit for love nor money, he said. We applied for new water rights in 1994 and our application still hasn't even been processsed. At the rate the (Department of Ecology) is currently moving, it would take them 30 years just to process the backlog of applications they have now.For the Annapolis District, however, it wasn't a question of finding new water so much as it was tapping a source it already had the rights to.In 1994, the district performed an assessment of a well it was operating at the corner of Bay and Mitchell Streets and concluded it was authorized to pump up to 2,000 gallons a minute but actually only generating about 200 gallons. The study recommended that the district transfer part of its water rights from the Bay Street well to three other wells throughout the region, including the Salmonberry Well Field.In 1995, the Kitsap County Public Utilities District spent $100,000 to drill a test well down to 830 feet at the site, and the results were modest but promising. In 1999, the Annapolis Water District spent an additional $100,000 to drill down to 1,565 feet - and engineers discovered huge water deposits between 1,290 and 1,500 feet.The district last August awarded a $400,000 contract to Schneider Drilling & Equipment of St. Paul, Ore., to dig the 1,500-foot well. By the time the well is equipped, Coburn estimates it will cost another $240,000. Thirty percent of the development cost is being paid by the district through its normal rates and fees. The remaining 70 percent comes from a state loan the Annapolis Water District will repay at 1 percent interest over the next 20 years.The well should be fully operational by the end of this year.Compare this to the cost of developing water resources elsewhere, Coburn said. In Pierce and ing County, it costs them $6 million for about one million gallons a day. Our cost is about one-tenth of that because we really did our homework and were able to develop groundwater we already had the rights to. "

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