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In search of Dry Fork water

A drill rig located in Dry Fork Canyon has aroused some interest of local residents as to what crews are drilling for.

Jim Coffer, foreman of the Henkle Drilling crew out of Denver explained they are drilling exploratory test holes for Maeser Water Improvement District.

“We have an underground water right that we are trying to prove on and put to use,” explained Dusty McCormick, manager of the Maeser Water Improvement District.

McCormick said the district has two existing shallow wells in Dry Fork Canyon. One is located at Remember the Maine Park and another is about a half a mile up the canyon on the Thesa Hullinger property. These wells were drilled in the 1980s and both use smaller casing to capture the slow flowing wells that total about 80 gallons a minute. The district will exchange this water to the creek if this project pans out.

“Because they were smaller, we didn’t want to go in and rebuild the wells,” said McCormick. “So, we are drill two exploratory holes to determine water quality and quantity in that area.”

Henkle Drilling is currently drilling the first exploratory well at the mouth of the petroglyph site in Dry Fork Canyon. The other will be drilled in Spring Creek on the Taylor Mountain Road located about two miles straight east of the first well.

“We have tried to stay away from water supplied by the Ashley Springs,” said McCormick. “We have a deep water right that allows us to start looking at 800 feet, but we are expecting to drill much deeper.”

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They are drilling and looking for water in the Weber formation that is located about 1,000 feet down. They will drill the test holes to about 2,500 to complete the test.

Presently, crews have about another week on the current drill site. They have drilled to 2,500 feet and are not coming back up through to detail the zones where water flowed. Water quality and flows in the different zones will be further analyzed.

Coffer said they did hit an artisan flow that they estimated to be 500 gallons a minute at the first drill site. McCormick confirmed the artisan well find, but stated that further tests would have to be done to determine the quality and quantity of the well.

Maeser Water currently has three wells that include two shallow wells in Dry Fork and a larger well in the Painted Hills subdivision that flows about 300 gallons a minute. They use about 700 to 800 acre feet of water each year which, computes to be the equivalent of about 1,000 gallons a minute of water flow. Therefore the district is looking for two additional wells to go along with the flows from Painted Hills.

“We do have a large surface water right, but the state told us that we have to put our underground water rights to beneficial use,” explained McCormick. He stated that some of their water filings are over 50 years old and the state hinted that they needed to act on these filings or possibly lose them.

The district received a $200,000 grant to pay for the exploratory well drilling and were invited back to apply for additional funds if the water quality and quantity and state water rights can be worked out. The cost of installing a production well for the district would be about $1.2 million for each well.

“We don’t want anyone to panic. If we don’t hit water or if the two exploratory wells don’t work out, we have enough surface water,” stated McCormick. “But, it would be good to develop this water for future generations.”

The Maeser Water and Sewer District include areas in the northwest of the Valley from 1500 West through to the Painted Hills subdivision area, and from Main Street to the north including areas in Dry Fork to areas around the Remember the Main Park.

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