Drilling begins for new water pipeline system The first test well was drilled last week for the Lewis & Clark Rural Water system just west of Vermillion near the Clay County Park boat ramp. This was the first of a series of holes the workers will drill in the area. The test holes will help determine the water capacity of the wells and the water samples will give an indication of what type of treatment plant will be needed. Shown working on the drilling rig are Kathyrn Epp (right) who is the project manager and senior hydrologist, and Duane Trash of Omaha. by David Lias Drilling has begun for the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System at the Missouri River near Clay County Park west of Vermillion.
Workers began digging test holes for the first potential well sites last week along the river.
When the rural system is complete, Missouri River water will be transported by pipeline to 22 cities and rural water systems in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, including Sioux Falls.
Vermillion officials and a Brookings engineering firm, Banner and Associates, are working to determine whether it will be feasible for the city to tap into the pipeline for raw, untreated Missouri River water.
City Manager Jeff Pederson said utilizing the river water will be a realistic option if it is of higher quality than Vermillion's present water supply, and therefore less expensive to treat.
Vermillion currently obtains its water from wells in the southwest region of the city, near the old power plant.
Should the cost of treating the river water be equal to or greater than treating Vermillion's well water, the city may choose not to participate in the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System, even though the pipeline will be running very close to the community.
The process of drilling test wells is tedious. Crews are drilling holes an estimated 100 to 120 feet deep until they hit shale. That should be at the bottom of the water-bearing formation.
If soil characteristics are good, the next step will be to bore a larger-diameter hole and establish a test production well. If that meets specifications, a 12-inch well will be established,
and water will be pumped for 72 hours.
Workers will use nearby 2-inch wells to monitor what's happening with the aquifer during pumping. Water samples also will be tested.
The tests will help determine water capacity at the prospective wells and what type of treatment plant is needed.
The Lewis & Clark Rural Water System plans to construct a new water treatment plant in west-central Clay County. The plant will have the capacity to treat 24 million gallons of water per day (MGD) in 22 hours.
Average day demand for the system is expected to be 16.5 MGD. Water from Lewis & Clark pumped to the 22 member systems is for drinking purposes only, not for irrigation.
Nearly all of the water will eventually return to the Missouri River through the drainage basins of the James River, Vermillion River, Big Sioux River, Little Sioux River, Rock River and Floyd River.
The project will have minimal impact on in-stream flows in the Missouri River.
The project's total cost is approximately $283 million. The water system's capital budget was prorated among the members in the three state area on the basis of the delivery capacity reserved by the members in each of the states.
The costs were allocated equally among the members on the basis of capacity reserved on the system.
South Dakota communities that have secured membership in the water system are Beresford, Centerville, Harrisburg, Lennox, Madison, Parker, Sioux Falls, and Tea.
Ten more systems are thinking about joining the project � including Vermillion and Canton in South Dakota, Rushmore in Minnesota and the Iowa towns of Sanborn, Hartley, Rock Valley, George and Rock Rapids and the Iowa rural water systems of Southern Sioux and Lyon & Sioux.
They have until May 1 to decide whether to participate.