Drilling deeper to bypass ammonia

(Posted Dec. 20, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The city of London has drilled a third well at its new water plant in an attempt to fix high ammonia levels before the plant goes online.

The two existing wells at the East High Street site hit a deep pocket of natural occurring ammonia, a rarity in this part of the country, said Marty Colwell, water department superintendent. As a result, the ammonia level is three times the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Treatment of that level of ammonia would cut the plant’s productivity from 500 gallons per minute to 350 gallons per minute, Colwell said.

Since July, the department has tried to lower the ammonia by constantly pumping the existing two wells, but with no luck.

“So, we drilled a third test well lower to see if maybe we could get out of that pocket. If it turns out that water is good, then the idea is we will pump that well at the same time to dilute the other two,” Colwell said.

The first two wells are 160 feet deep; the third well is 400 feet deep. The department is at the pumping stage for the deeper well and will soon test its water.

“We’re hoping in the near future we’ll know what quality it is,” Colwell said.

No matter what the tests show, the city will have to treat the water at the plant for ammonia. The test results and the effectiveness of the dilution solution will determine the size of the treatment process.

Downtown parking

Earlier this month, Wendy Starr addressed city council about the idea of parking passes for residents of apartments above businesses in downtown London. Starr owns a business on South Main Street and is president of the Downtown London Association, a merchants group.

Starr said customers have trouble finding parking spots on weekends because apartment residents are allowed to leave their cars parked on Main Street all weekend. She also said it’s difficult to shovel snow from around cars that aren’t moved during snow emergencies to let plows through.

Closser said council member Anthony Smith is working on the downtown parking issue. No legislation has been brought to council yet. One idea is to have downtown apartment dwellers register for overnight-only parking passes. This would also help the city to communicate with those residents about moving their cars during snow emergencies.

“We’re open to suggestions,” Closser said about downtown parking.

Starr suggested that the overnight-only idea apply to weekends as well as weekdays.

Next meeting

London city council’s next meeting is set for Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, 6 E. Second St.

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