The decision to plug the 1,200-foot well at around the 900-foot level came after city engineer Larry Julius said hydro-geological tests revealed the water had nearly four times the amount of fluoride allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The agency regulates water, air and land among other things, as the issues relate to health and environmental problems.
“We believe the high fluoride levels are coming from the 900- to 940-feet level zone,” said Julius.
He said tests done in 2007 and 2008 revealed up to 15 milligrams per liter of fluoride.
The EPA requires cities to treat waters with fluoride levels higher than four milligrams per liter.
Fluoride levels higher than four milligrams “increased risk of crippling skeletal fluorosis,” according to the agency’s Web site.
On the other hand, another regulatory agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, which operates independently of the EPA, said small amounts of fluoride prevents tooth decay while minimizing chances for dental fluorosis.
Julius said the city could continue to conduct fluoride tests to determine where else the high-level concentration is occurring or chemically treat the water.
Both options are costly and do not offer an immediate solution to the well water, said Julius.
Well six is one of Othello’s largest wells, pumping 36 percent of the city’s total water production. The well is around 1,200 feet below surface and can pump close to 3,000 gallons of water per minute, according to Julius.
Plugging the well around the 900-foot level would reduce the production level of the well to 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water per minute.
The city will use a water-safe grout to plug the well.
Plugging the well would successfully stop mixture of low and high fluoride water.
Councilman Kenneth Johnson said he would rather have less water production than have bad water.
“To me, it’s worth it to plug the well and have good water than have a lot of bad water,” he said.
The project should be completed by the middle of February, said Julius.