Water supply district to drill test well

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Butler County Water Supply District is expected to authorize the drilling of a test well in the eastern part of the county in hopes of alleviating future water concern issues.

The well is expected to cost an estimated $375,000, according to BCWSD Chairman Steve Norman, with the Greenville Water Works and Sewer Board funding two-thirds of the project and the Butler County Water Authority funding one-third. Studies conducted of the sand aquifer beneath Butler County have indicated Greenville and the county could be facing a water shortage in the future, according to Marlon Cook, a hydro geologist with the Geological Survey of Alabama.

Cook said the test well is a cheaper alternative to surface water development options, such as constructing a reservoir.

Still, he said, there are risks. Engineers will attempt to tap into the Tuscaloosa aquifer – an underground layer of sand from which groundwater can be pumped through one of the numerous wells located in the county.

Water extracted, said Cook, could be unusable.

&#8220It's impossible to determine the risk,” said Cook. &#8220We just don't have enough data. I believe the risk is worth it.”

Currently, the county and city of Greenville pull all of its water from the Ripley aquifer. The problem, said Cook, is the water is not being replenished fast enough to meet commercial development needs.

&#8220It's a common theme in areas experiencing economic growth - your wells are falling at a certain rate each year and your water demand is increasing,” said Cook. &#8220Water is the primary ingredient for economic development and ground water is the cheapest alternative.”

Norman said the BCWSD is in the process of purchasing one acre of land near the Butler-Crenshaw County line to drill the test well.

The water supply district is formed from members of the BCWA and the Greenville Water Works and Sewer Board. It was formed in 2004 to explore future water supply options for Greenville and Butler County.