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UPDATE: Cave-in temporarily discolored city well water

City Well No. 8 is located at the water filtration plant at Hanley and O'Neil Roads. The water tower in the background (at the west end of Weitkamp Park) is supplied by water from the well.

A sand cave-in in the recharge area for a city well led the Hudson Water Utility to impose Level 1 restrictions on lawn watering Monday afternoon.

The use of sprinklers and irrigation systems is banned from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the city of Hudson and village of North Hudson.

Properties with even-number addresses are allowed to water at night on even dates, and properties with odd-number addresses on odd dates. The watering of streets, sidewalks and driveways is prohibited.

In a Tuesday morning email message to city officials and the local media, Utility Director Tim Caruso said the cave-in resulted in sand getting into the distribution system around city Well No. 8, located next to Weitkamp Park at the intersection of Hanley and O'Neil roads.

The sand began appearing in tap water at homes in the Red Cedar Canyon neighborhood, Hudson Hospital and Clinics, and businesses in the area of the Menards, Home Depot and County Market stores.

Caruso said the well was shut down at about 3 p.m., and slowly brought back on line, reaching about 75 percent of its production capacity (750 gallons per minute) at 10:30 p.m. Monday.

He said the cave-in occurred after the pump was speeded up Monday morning to provide 125 percent of normal production. The well is supposed to be able to produce that volume of water, he said.

Well No. 9, located across O'Neil Road from No. 8, also was ramped up to 125 percent of normal production and didn't experience any trouble. It remains at 125 percent of capacity.

Caruso said the Water Utility hadn't gotten any more complaints about cloudy water Tuesday morning.

The utility is flushing mains in the affected area to get the remaining sand out, he said.

The reason for the watering restrictions is to keep the utility's water towers filled to 75 percent of capacity, which maintains water pressure for homes, businesses and institutions.

Monday morning, before the trouble with Well No. 9, Caruso contacted the Star-Observer to request the newspaper's help in getting city and village residents to voluntarily curtail their daytime lawn watering.

Less than 50 percent of the water reaches the grass and plants when sprinkling is done on hot, sunny days, he said. "You are simply throwing your money away."

Doing lawn irrigating at night conserves not only water, but money, because electric rates are lower during the off-peak, night hours, Caruso added.

The utility already was dealing with the failure of the city well on Gray Street three weeks ago.

The 543-foot deep well is the utility's least productive, but it helps keep reservoirs filled during the summer months when water demand is high.

Caruso said a column of the Gray Street well shaft collapsed deep in the ground. The utility is in the process of rebuilding the well, and waiting for the pipe to arrive.

Caruso said he expects the well to be back in production by the end of July, at the latest.

The well, drilled in 1953, will produce 50 percent more water after the upgrade is completed in 2013, he said.

Well No. 8

The cave-in at Well No. 8 occurred below the pump bowl at 315 feet, causing the floor of the recharge area to come up to 309 feet, Caruso said in his communication to city officials.

He said the six feet of sand that willed the recharge area floor wasn't a problem because the bowl of the pump is set at 205 feet. "So we have over 100 feet of room," he said.

Caruso said Well No. 8 would be returned to 100 percent production (1.5 million gallons a day) after it had gone 24 hours without drawing any sand.

He said the utility would be at more than 90 percent of its normal production after Well No. 8 is returned to full production.

"So for the rest of the week, we will be doing lots of flushing to clear the mains from that sand, and again, that's why the watering ban, we simply need the pressure to have multiple hydrants open to get back to good esthetically clean water to our customers," Caruso wrote.

"There is nothing wrong with the water, it just doesn't/didn't look pretty. We tell any customer that still has a problem to run the water for 10-15 minutes, and that has cleared up their service. For the most part, that area's mains are now pretty good, but not back to perfect yet."

Caruso complimented the utility staff for doing a "great" job in getting the mains cleared.

"We would be in tough shape without that dedication," he wrote.