Regional Water Panel Meeting Shows Healthy Regional Financials and Progress on Madison Project

(Gillette, Wyo.) The Regional Water Panel held their quarterly meeting Wednesday, during which Michelle Henderson provided a presentation on the city’s water utility funds. Panel member Levi Jensen also provided an update on the Madison Water Supply Project.

Henderson’s presentation showed, with considerations for depreciation and capital improvement, the city’s regional financials are healthy. Projections show that trend continuing into 2023.

That’s good news for water customers.

“We just don’t see a rate increase anytime soon,” said Utilities Director Mike Cole.

That projection, however, is only for the regional water supply. The city splits the fund into two parts, one for the regional water supply and the other for the distribution side. The distribution portion might see rate increases before 2023.

The two funds were split up several years ago. The regional portion of the system includes wells, treatment, storage, and piping into town from the Madison Well Field.

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The distribution side covers the infrastructure inside the city limits, including tanks, 2,700 fire hydrants, and 240 miles of pipeline. Each community served by the regional system has a separate distribution system.

The city is going to be doing a cost of service study this fall that will provide the Gillette City Council with a better picture of where rates need to be for that side of the city’s water fund.

Currently, city of Gillette residents pay a base charge of $6.50 monthly, plus $3.95 for every 1000 gallons used.

That consumption-rate charge includes $0.94 for the distribution side.

Well field

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At the Madison Well Field, the city is awaiting a number of Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality permits to complete the acid stimulation process and approval of the cement bond logs on a number of wells.

The cement bond logs indicate if the casing inside the well bore has proper integrity. The DEQ approval is needed before the city can begin designing the pumps for the wells and put them into action.

The use of the acid stimulation techniques raised suspicion last year the city was the source of problems for private wells in the Carlile area, which were running dry and showing high levels of acidity.

Tests conducted by the DEQ on dozens of wells in the area revealed the source of the acidity to be sulfuric acid. Since the city used hydrochloric acid, the test results showed the source was more likely the pyrite in the geographic formations around the area. When water reacts with pyrite, it creates sulfuric acid.

Jensen said there was no firm timeline on when the DEQ permits would be complete.

Originally from New Mexico, Killough began his career writing freelance for a weekly magazine in Albuquerque while completing his undergraduate degree. In addition to reporting on uranium mining in western New Mexico, he spent three years reporting in western North Dakota during the height of the oil boom. He can be reached at kevin@county17.com or 701-641-6603.