SALAMANCA — A study on the future of the wells and water plant in the city of Salamanca will be coming soon after approval for a grant to pay for it by the Common Council.

The council at its Sept. 25 meeting authorized the city’s Board of Public Utilities to apply for a $30,000 grant for engineers to do a feasibility study for phase two of the city’s water plant well project, which would be to repair or replace several of the city’s wells and pumps.

During the pre-council work session, BPU General Manager Dennis Hensel explained to the council that half of the city’s well field is off and they need to get some of the pumps replaced.

“If we’re just running off of four pumps down here at the water plant, the pump that we have now is so powerful that it can create a vacuum and it can collapse those four wells that we’re running off of,” he said

The BPU would need to install a variable frequency drive that would slowly ramp up the suction so that it can’t create a big suction at the bottom of the wells and cause them to collapse, Hensel said.

The pre-development planning grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the engineering feasibility study is for up to $30,000 or 75 percent of the total cost of the study.

After the study, Hensel said the next plan would be to seek the money to make the repairs to the wells.

“We know right now that what they would like to see is for us to close down the water plant, but I don’t want to do that,” he said. “If we can show them that we can rehab it with new pumps and a generator that can work while the power’s off, then we’ll be able to keep it.”

If the city water plant didn’t remain open, Hensel said the city could have to use the well in Great Valley as the primary source of water for the city, which would cost millions of dollars more.

“That well has no infrastructure, no pumping or no pump building or anything as it stands now,” he said. “These are the things the engineers will look at in this feasibility study and give us the best cost for the direction to proceed in.”

Council member Michael Lonto, R-Ward 3, wondered what effect having to use the Great Valley well would have on the fire department, which Hensel said would be a great effect.

“If we can’t maintain our tank levels on just four wells, we’re going to have the Great Valley pump picking up all that slack on a daily basis,” he said. “And we like to see that Great Valley well shut off every now and then.”

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)