Culprit identified in trippy water well woes

Posted 7/14/20

The city is getting closer to unraveling the mysteries of cantankerous Water Well No. 3, the well near Interstate 45 that has long frustrated the Madisonville Public Works Department with electrical issues.

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Culprit identified in trippy water well woes

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The city is getting closer to unraveling the mysteries of cantankerous Water Well No. 3, the well near Interstate 45 that has long frustrated the Madisonville Public Works Department with electrical issues.

“That’s a very vital well on that side (of town)” Director of Public Works Kevin Story said Monday night at the regular meeting of the Madisonville City Council. “I need that well.”

For more than a year, Water Well No. 3 has faced electrical overloads that cause it to “trip” and shut off. The cause of variances in amperage to the well has been under investigation, with most clues pointing to electric provider Entergy.

Story plugged the well into a borrowed generator recently and gathered even more evidence.

“It was amazing how tight the water plant ran,” he told council members. Story then reverted back to the normal sources of power. “There was such an array of different amperages coming in, it was not even close (to correct).

“I wish I could have left the generator there, because everything was so close.”

Each of the city’s wells has a “motor saver,” a regulator designed to protect well motors from electricity overloads and underloads. The manufacturer of the regulators set an allowance of five percent, which has been the average overload at Water Well No. 3.

In early May 2019, Story called to ensure that the manufacturer’s warranty would still be honored if the variance was reset to seven percent. City workers then adjusted the regulator, which allowed for a delayed opening of the Splash Pad. But the fixes were only temporary and calls to Entergy for a long-term solution have been fruitless.

As a result of the generator test, the city is having a letter written to notify Entergy of the findings and inform the company of the city’s intent to escalate the matter to the Public Utilities Commission unless the issue is corrected.

The well is currently running, though at a much-reduced rate from operations that preceded the power issues. Story said the well is pumping 900 gallons a minute, but formerly pumped closer to 1,200 gallons a minute.

Lower water usage during the slowdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has helped keep Water Well No. 3 online, he said.

“But we can’t have it running (solely) because we’re on coronavirus (slowdowns),” he told council members.

In other moves Monday, city council members approved hiring the architecture and engineering firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong to build a new $1.2 million multifamily housing project funded through the Texas General Land Office’s disaster recovery progam.

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