Highlands residents losing well water levels (July 12, 2015)

APPLE VALLEY — Residents in the Highlands area overlooking the Mojave River are noticing wells going dry and the region’s watermaster says it’s a result of cyclical drought conditions.

Rebecca Stevens says her home’s water well level on Riverview Road is nearing its 350-foot bottom and losing quality.

I started to notice a lot of murkiness and sediment in the water, Stevens said.

She said it might cost her $20,000 to drill a new, deeper well and a handful of neighbors in the rural Highlands area have simply switched to delivered water.

Officials at Mojave Water Agency say the well levels in the area are nearing their historic lows and some Highlands wells are not dug deep enough to weather the dramatic fluctuations in the river’s upper basin.

MWA General Manager Kirby Brill said that area near the headwaters of the Mojave River exhibit the greatest seasonal and long-term fluctuations of water levels throughout the region.

Well driller Robert Taylor said he has serviced some wells in the area that have failed quickly, as if a large draw from the aquifers is being made.

We have seen a few in that area, Taylor said. All of a sudden they don’t have water.

The wells that are experiencing the quickest failures were drilled in the 1950s to ‘70s when there was less demand for the area’s water and the water table was higher, he said. Some wells dug to the 400- to 500-foot depth are still functioning, but some of the newer wells have been drilled to a depth of 700 or 800 feet deep.

Taylor said determining the right depth to drill is tricky because of the undulating hills in the area and the presence of at least two aquifers.

Remedies for failing wells are to wait out the drought until the water table rises again, get a holding tank for wells still able to produce or drill a new well, Taylor said. To drill one to reach 400 feet or deeper might cost in the $25,000 to $40,000 range, he said.

Or residents can purchase water for delivery to storage tanks.

Readers can go to mojavewater.org/subarea-hydrograph-gallery.html to see hydrographs for the various areas within the MWA’s authority.

Source: Gary Brodeur, Daily Press