Red Hill Water Supply for Contaminated Wells




Update on the Red Hill study and proposal for a replacement water supply




Tucker, Foley, Graham, Hirschman






August 11, 2004


ACTION:                                INFORMATION: 



  ACTION:                              INFORMATION:    X











County staff has been working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on a study to find a replacement water supply in the Red Hill area.  The study is needed due to a major groundwater contamination incident originating at the Trading Post on Route 29.  So far, 11 wells have had petroleum products detected, and 7 have had carbon filtration units (cfu’s) installed, some for many years.  DEQ has already expended significant funds on investigations and pump and treat systems, and the plume is far from contained.  DEQ is very concerned that a permanent, reliable water supply can be provided for the impacted properties and those at risk for contamination.  For this reason, DEQ approached the County early in 2003 to seek help in studying and setting up the replacement water supply.


The recent history of this project is summarized below:


·         At its March 5, 2003 meeting, the Board authorized County staff to work with DEQ to facilitate a long-term water supply solution.

·         On December 10, 2003, the Board authorized the County Executive to sign an interagency agreement with DEQ.  The agreement allows the County to procure consultant services to study and recommend a replacement water supply, with all study costs to be reimbursed by DEQ.

·         DEQ and the County held a public meeting at Red Hill School on April 22, 2003 to inform the public about the situation and seek input on whether a replacement water supply would be supported.

·         A Request for Proposals was developed, and after a competitive process, Golder Associates was chosen to conduct the study.


The study involves evaluating the feasibility of various water supply configurations: individual replacement wells, shared wells, or a community water supply.  The work is divided into two phases.  Phase 1 is a preliminary groundwater investigation, and Phase 2 involves more detailed geologic and engineering work to analyze particular water supply options.  Golder has completed the Phase 1 report and is ready to proceed with phase 2 when given the notice to proceed.




Goal 3.1: Make the County a Safe and Healthy Community in which citizens feel secure to live, work

and play




In Phase 1,Golder studied geology, water quality issues, land uses, existing wells, and bedrock fractures in the Red Hill vicinity.  Phase 1 identified three potential water supply options and 15 potential well sites for replacement water supply.  Replacement of individual wells on each impacted lot (or shared between two or more lots) were not found to be a feasible option due to water quality and quantity issues. That left only a community water system or extending public water to this area as options.   Golder outlined the following three options for a community water system in the Phase 1 report:


Red Hill Water Supply for Contaminated Wells

August 11, 2003

Page 2




(1)     A small community water supply to serve the 11 impacted properties.  Staff has serious concerns with the long-term viability of such a system.  Past experience has shown that fixed operating costs for a system this small make it cost prohibitive except where one of the property owners assumes the management responsibility.  Even where some property owner assumes the initial management responsibility, experience has shown there is eventually some gap in management that results in supply problems and those problems create a demand for the County to assume responsibility of the system.  If the public (County) were to manage this system, the fixed operating costs of the system would make it prohibitively expensive for the properties without significant public subsidies.  As such, staff believes this option should only be considered as a last resort and it does not warrant further study at this point.         

(2)     A medium size community water supply to serve the 11 impacted properties plus additional properties immediately surrounding and/or downgradient from the contaminated plume that may be impacted in the future.  This system configuration would include any property with a potential for future contamination, including Red Hill School and possibly the Southern Hills Subdivision.  Staff believes this system is the smallest size that has any chance of long-term viability while remaining cost effective.  Staff believes the Phase 2 study can determine if this option is a viable, cost-effective solution.    

(3)     A larger community water supply to serve properties along Route 29 between the Trading Post and Crossroads (Route 692 and Route 710).  This system would effectively create a water system capable of supporting a village sized community.  Golder considered this option because larger community systems tend to be the most reliable and this area is known for poor groundwater yields.  While staff agrees this system offers the best chance of long-term viability, it also creates policy issues with regard to rural land use.  As such, staff believes this option should only be considered if option 2 proves impracticable and the Board of Supervisors is ready to consider the rural land use issues associated with it.    


Golder is ready to proceed with Phase 2 of this study.  Phase 2 would include hydrogeologic and engineering work on a smaller number of sites to assess the feasibility of a water supply system, including cost estimates for both the initial construction and long-term operations of the system.  Staff believes this work needs to be completed before the Board could consider approval of a community water system or extending public water to this location.  As stated above, staff believes option 2 is the most prudent from a water supply and County policy perspective.   Staff would like Golder and DEQ to proceed with Phase 2 at the earliest time possible.  Subsequent to that work, staff would propose to come before the Board to review the findings and see if other options should be investigated further.     




Authorize staff to proceed with Phase 2 of the study using option 2.  This study would include detailed hydrogeologic and engineering analysis, as well as cost estimates for both construction and long-term operations.