It's try and try again for the city of Bingen as it seeks to locate additional water resources for customers in its water service area.
In June, the Bingen City Council authorized a $60,000 contract with Holt Drilling Inc., of Puyallup, to clean and rehabilitate two of the city's four wells -- the Dry Creek Well and the Park Well. Both wells had been out of service because they were producing so little water it was not cost-effective to run the pumps.
Holt completed its well rehabilitation work in August, but the results were not quite as positive as the city had hoped for.
"We had reasonably good results with the Dry Creek Well, and less good with the Park Well," explained Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "I think they did a good job with the cleaning, but it was a little more expensive than we hoped."
Prigel said the Dry Creek Well went from putting out only about 40 gallons a minute before the cleaning to about 140-150 gallons a minute after the work.
However, Prigel said experts advised the city that a much higher water output was possible with a little extra work.
"Our consultant strongly urged us to drill deeper in both wells," Prigel said.
The council heeded the advice, and upped the ante. At its last meeting, the Bingen City Council voted unanimously to contract with M-K Drilling Co., a Dallesport company, to deepen the Park Well and the Dry Creek Well.
The Park Well is located in Daubenspeck Park, and the Dry Creek Well is near Jefferson and Walnut.
"We'll drill each well about 25 feet deeper," said Mayor Prigel. "We're pretty confident that will boost the Dry Creek Well output pretty strongly. With the Park Well, we're not really sure, but the cost to drill another 25 feet is only about another $1,500."
The council stipulated that the drilling contract with M-K is not to exceed $10,000.
Currently, the city of Bingen gets its water from the one remaining well it has in production -- the Reservoir Well, which has been producing water for the city on its own over the past year.
The city of White Salmon supplies the rest of Bingen's water.
Prigel said city officials were confident the cleaning project and the new drilling will help lessen Bingen's reliance on water from White Salmon.
"With the Dry Creek Well, we're pretty confident we'll get back to the original production of about 300 gallons a minute. We're getting about 140-150 gallons a minute now," he said.
According to Prigel, the Reservoir Well, which is off SR 141 next to Dry Creek, delivers only about 60 gallons a minute.
"It's always been a backup, it's never been a high producer," Prigel explained.
The city's only other well, the Maple Street Well, has been off line for more than two decades, and there are no immediate plans to attempt to resurrect the source.
"After we're done with the other two wells, we'll consider our options there," Prigel said.
If all goes well, M-K is expected to have the drilling project done by Sept. 2.
New pumps will also be installed in both wells.
Prigel said he was optimistic. He estimated that the city's water availability could go from about 60 gallons a minute to 350 gallons a minute, once all three of the rehabilitated wells are producing.
"We could cut back considerably from what we're buying from White Salmon. I don't know if it would eliminate purchases in the summer, but it would help considerably," Prigel explained. "Our cost to pump it out is about one-third of what we're paying White Salmon for water."
Prigel pointed out that Bingen pays about $7,000 a month to White Salmon for water in the peak summer months.
"I think our investment will pay off," he explained. "It's not the best we hoped for, but it'll be a reasonably good outcome. I'd bet over the next year, this project will pay itself off."