The Town of Lawton and its subcontractors are “well” in the process of bringing groundwater to Lawton on a widespread basis, having already completed the drilling of two wells and preparing a test program to treat the. water on a site.
Although the wells are designed as supplementary sources – meaning that they are intended to supplement water drawn from three lakes – they will be kept in minor production until they are needed for maximum use, a said the director of utilities, Rusty Whisenhunt.
The well project was funded by a series of capital improvement programs, launched during a drought so severe that Lawton was weeks after banning almost all outdoor water use due to the low elevation of the Lawtonka, Ellsworth and Waurika lakes. This drought erupted within days when heavy rains began in the spring of 2015, and the rain has been abundant since then, but city leaders are also experiencing the Great Plains rain-drought cycle and say they know the drought will return.
That’s why city leaders are following the recommendation of a private engineering firm the city council hired to analyze Lawton’s options for alternative water sources. Garver’s recommendation: Drill wells in the Arbuckle-Timbered Hills aquifer which lies beneath much of Comanche County.
âIt’s not really big, but it’s very by-product,â Whisenhunt said.
A lack of wells means that data on water quality – which determines treatment – is scarce. But, Whisenhunt said City of Lawton officials already know groundwater is high in fluorides, suspended solids (dissolved solids in water) and arsenic, all the result of natural soil contamination. . Thus, among the work associated with the water well project is the determination of a treatment process.
Whisenhunt said the treatment to remove contaminants from groundwater will use reverse osmosis (RO) and the membrane.
âIt’s a different process,â he said, from the treatment needed to remove contaminants from groundwater leached from surrounding rocks and soil, compared to bacterial contaminants released into lakes when the rain turns to runoff. .
These groundwater contaminants are significant: The late Councilor Robert Morford, who was also a dentist, said the fluoride levels cited for some existing wells in the Arbuckle-Timbered Hills aquifer were high enough to blacken teeth.
The treatment process will be determined through a pilot test, with a portable unit to be installed in Henderson Park in south-east Lawton behind the old Park Lane Elementary School. This well was the first to be completed and this is where the portable test unit will be installed, said Whisenhunt, explaining that the findings at this site can be used to create a treatment process suitable for any water. extracted from the aquifer.
The Henderson Park well is expected to provide up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day, as the city continues its quest to find more wells to bring the total water available from wells to 5 million gallons per day. day.
Garver and town engineers have identified two other good well sites (that is, one that should produce a plentiful supply of water) near the Flower Mound School on the southeast Flower Mound path; one is finished, work started last week on the second. Additional sites can be found on South East 60th Street near Bishop Road and one along East Gore Boulevard at the site of the old sewage treatment plant, near the Big Green Soccer complex.
Whisenhunt said city officials hope all test wells will be drilled within the next six weeks, as they identify enough wells to produce a combined total of 5 million gallons per day. Coupled with water drawn from the city’s lakes, the result will be enough to keep Lawton-Fort Sill in the water during times of drought.
Currently being drilled test wells cost $ 100,000 each, but each permanent well site will cost $ 1.1 million to drill, which is why city officials want to ensure that a well can produce enough water. and that a treatment option is in place. Whisenhunt said the wells will measure 1,400 feet, with a 16-inch pipe to draw water from the ground. This is much smaller than a well drilled to supply domestic quantities of water, with engineers estimating that a domestic well would need 2.5-inch piping.
The goal is to produce a flow rate of 1,200 to 1,500 gallons per minute.
Whisenhunt said city officials have deliberately chosen to drill water wells in east Lawton. The water extracted from these wells will be transported to the south-eastern water treatment plant for treatment and use, via a transport system which must also be installed. This transportation system will be a series of pipes running from the wellheads at Lawton’s east sites to the water plant, starting with 10-inch lines before moving to a 24-inch line along Flower Mound Road.
âOnce processed, it will be mixed with the lake water,â Whisenhunt said, adding that the southeastern plant was built in a modular format, which means it can easily be expanded for options. additional processing.
As the wells will be drilled and the transportation system installed, the treatment option will be uniquely designed, with construction waiting for water to be required. City Manager Michael Cleghorn said there will be a “trigger point” at which widespread use of well water will begin, focused on raising the city’s lakes that now provide water. The forecast for the lake’s elevations will give Lawton sufficient time to build the processing facility, with funding already identified in the city’s capital improvement program, he said.