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September 28, 2012 06:04 PM

Water Well Problem In Worthington

Worthington, MN

The summer-long drought is extending well into the fall, especially in southern Minnesota. In Worthington, the majority of the city's water supply is in trouble because of where the town's wells are located.

Lake Bella, which is just south of Worthington, holds seven of the city's 12 water wells. But the drought makes the lake look more like a puddle. And the city's concerned drastic measures may need to be taken if rain doesn't come soon.

The eastern basin of Lake Bella isn't a corn field, but it has plenty of cracked soil.

"What we've seen down in our well field is static levels have been dropping every week since the first of June," Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain said.

The seven biggest wells that supply water to the city of Worthington are located around the lake. They're currently, on average, 31 feet below ground level. They're supposed to be near 18 to 20 feet.

"They had been dropping in the two to four inch range per week," Hain said. "Over the last few weeks, we've seen that accelerate to dropping about a foot a week."

Hain says the critical stage is 42 feet below ground level. And the city could hit that right as winter hits.

"Once we get into December and the ground freezes up, there is no recharge to the wells," Hain said. "So, they're going to steadily decline every week regardless of what happens from that point on."

For now, the city has an every other day watering policy based on home address. And they're also temporarily borrowing water from the Lincoln-Pipestone rural water system. But unless there's significant rain, restrictions may get worse.

"If things continue to decline the way they are, I think we'll put an all-out ban on irrigation for the rest of the year at least," Hain said.

Hain says he's going to attend a Worthington public utilities commission meeting on Monday to discuss an all-out ban. For now though, area businesses and residents have been trying to conserve water as best they can.

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