For many residents in the Elmore area, the conversation frequently turns to groundwater levels and their water wells.
W.F. Hofffman, of Elliston-Trowbridge Road in Harris Township, participated in a study by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 2011 that monitored water levels in the township and the effect new agricultural irrigation wells are having on them.
The results of the study will be discussed at a meeting the ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Resources will hold July 25 at the Harris-Elmore Fire Station.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
“My water has changed,” Hoffman said last week. “New rock is being exposed and the taste is horrible.”
Study sampling of his well show a pattern throughout the area.
Water levels in his well averaged in the mid 30-foot range between April and August of 2011 except for July when they dropped to more than 40 feet.
Hoffman said he is convinced the drop occurred because irrigation wells at Bench Farms were in use at the time.
“There is no doubt in my mind” he said.
The conclusion reached by the study appears to concur.
“Hydrographs of the ground water level data show that the greatest changes in water levels occurred during the pumping of the irrigation wells between June 15 and July 14, 2011,” the study says. “Ground water level declines of up to 17.4 feet can be attributed to this pumping. Drawdown values of 10 feet were observed approximately 4,000 feet away from the Bench 2 well. It appears that installing 100 feet of casing was only partially successful in isolating the irrigation wells from the neighboring wells.”
The study notes large-scale growers for the past six years began installing high-yielding wells to provide sufficient water for their tomato crops.
“Shortly after the wells went into operation, the local homeowners began to complain that the water levels in their wells were declining,” the study says, prompting them to deepen their wells, lower their well pumps, or drill new wells to insure adequate supplies.
The soil and water division agreed to conduct the study at the request of residents.
The study area is between State Route 163 to the north, the Portage River to the south, Martin-Williston Road to the west, and State Route 590 to the east.
Three other “high-yielding” irrigation wells are included in the study. They are described in the study as Rothert 1 and 2 and Luckey.
The Bench wells have depths of 400 and 420 feet and casing lengths of 300 feet. The Luckey well is 350 feet deep and a casing length of 54 feet. Rothert 1 and 2 are 345 and 365 feet deep respectively and casing lengths of 98 and 100 feet.
“The field data shows that the ground water level in the Bench 1 well during pumping was approximately 150 feet below the land surface on July 14, 2011. It was difficult to get an accurate measurement in this well because of an obstruction down in the well. The pumping water level in the Bench 2 well was 102 feet below the land surface. The water level in the Luckey well, which is located between the Bench 1 and 2 wells, declined to 47.97 feet below the land surface on July 14. These data show that the water level in the Luckey well was affected by the overlapping cones of depression caused by the pumping of the Bench 1 and 2 wells,” the study says.
It recommends further testing to identify flow zones in each of the wells as well as determining well efficiency.
Owners of high-yielding wells should prepare reports that fully define the aquifer and a monitoring and management plan, according to the study.
The study is available at the ODNR website.