Test well drilling continues

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The test wells being constructed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, located next to Smithfield town offices on South Church Street, are expected to be completed later this year.

In all, seven wells at varying depths will be employed to test water levels and the chemical composition in several different aquifers, said Scott Bruce, groundwater characterization supervisor with DEQ, during a recent report to the Smithfield Town Council Water and Sewer Committee.

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Each well is dedicated to an aquifer, which includes the Potomac, Piney Point and Yorktown aquifers, Bruce said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The well depths range from around 950 feet to 40 feet, he added.

The project is being conducted, in part, as part of the water withdrawal permit renewal process for the town of Smithfield and Smithfield Foods.

The town and Foods are considered one of 12 large permit holders in the region.

Once installed, the wells will be monitored and maintained by DEQ. The water level data, collected every 15 minutes, will be available through the U.S. Geological Service website, said Bruce.

The site next to the town offices was chosen so that water used by both Foods and the town could be monitored. 

The test wells will determine if the town or Foods is using too much water, said Eric Lassalle, engineer with Smithfield Foods.

Smithfield Town Council member Andrew Gregory asked if the town could expect a reduction of its permitted amount, which is currently 1.27 million gallons a day. Smithfield Packing is permitted for 2.6 million gallons day.

“It’s a possibility we’ll all have to take a cut,” said Lassalle.

DEQ has been monitoring water withdrawal permit amounts in response to diminishing groundwater levels.

When completed, the seven test wells with have well heads that rise about 24 inches from the ground and be surrounded by a concrete pad. The wells will include a small satellite antenna and a solar panel used for transmitting data.  {/mprestriction}