Oceanside desal test wells show promising early results

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is finishing up round two of groundwater test wells aimed at locating a consistent water source to treat and supply local water to residents and businesses.

“It’s one of our key projects to help us get to a water independence point the City Council is extremely interested in,” Jason Dafforn, interim water utilities director, said.

An initial test well was put in at a city parking lot near the San Luis Rey River in 2009. Positive test results prompted securing permits for the second study that is now wrapping up at the Oceanside Harbor.

The recent test well was located on the beach. It was drilled down about 150 feet in order to find a consistent quality and quantity of water to treat.

Results from the beach test well, which closed down last week, are still being analyzed.

Dafforn said preliminary feedback from city consultants look promising.

“We’re looking for two things, a consistent supply and a high volume of sustainable water,” Dafforn said. “Something we can pump, and have a low draw down on the well itself.”

Data will be shared with water utilities staff in two weeks. A report on the findings will be completed next month.

If the study confirms a viable groundwater source an intense pump analysis, higher volumes of water over a longer period of time, will be done in order to ensure the needed amount of water is consistently available. The final analysis will also show whether one or two wells are needed.

Dafforn said the analysis would determine whether the project is a go.

Once a viable water source is confirmed, and phase I of the project is approved to move forward, permanent wells will be put in and groundwater will be transported to the city’s Mission Basin Treatment Facility. There, well water will be treated, mixed in with the city’s water supply and delivered to customers.

The wells themselves will not be noticeable. They will be underground and covered and will not disrupt the location.

The wells will also be dug deep enough so they will not to disturb marine life.

“The well has very minimal impact on sensitive resources,” Dafforn said.

When phase I of the project is up and running, wells will add 5 million gallons of water a day to the city water supply and move the city significantly closer to water independence.

Phase I of the groundwater desalination project is estimated to cost $80 million and bring more local water to customers in 10 to 12 years.

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