Drop in aquifer affecting Merrill
Hottman, Herald and News 7/13/10
beginning of July, the effects of limited
surface water reached beyond farmers to the city
of Merrill when the well pump fell short of the
groundwater level for the first time in its
48-year existence, leaving residences and
businesses without running water for days.
drawing from groundwater dropped the aquifer’s
water level between five and 15 feet from spring
measurements, forcing the city to lower the well
pump from 70 feet to 150 feet.
areas, levels dropped by as much as 20 feet,
said Kyle Gorman, water manager for the state
Water Resources Department regional office in
Bend. Typically, the office notes 10 to 15 feet
of change over a decade.
anticipated a drop in the water table due to
Gorman said. But, he added, the department
couldn’t determine how big a drop it would be.
levels are in constant flux, based on how much
water used during the growing season is replaced
during the wet months. In the Klamath Basin,
aquifers depend largely on snowmelt.
Merrill’s water users go through 500,000 gallons
daily during the summer and 180,000 gallons
during the winter, said Brian Bicknell, Merrill
municipalities like Malin and Merrill depend on
the regional Water Resources office in
monitor groundwater levels. The office doesn’t
measure wells directly; it has observation wells
that are networked with local wells, and the
office measures those monthly or quarterly,
officials consulted with the regional office
about how deep to extend the well, Gorman said.
similar situation in Malin in 1991, the office
has kept up-to-date well logs for Merrill and
Malin, Gorman said, and has recently asked
Klamath Falls for well information to make sure
groundwater levels remain healthy.
A week after
the water supply was replenished, Bicknell said,
the aquifer was in good shape.
“We should be good as far as
depth,” Bicknell said. “It should sustain us
through summer, then winter begins and the water
tables rise again.”