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Town counts on well grant to restore water supply

When one of St. John's water wells dried up in September, the community was forced to run its secondary well at full capacity.Thanks to a $50,430 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant, the city's water supply...

When one of St. John’s water wells dried up in September, the community was forced to run its secondary well at full capacity.
Thanks to a $50,430 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant, the city’s water supply could be back to full force this spring with a second well.
“This one well cannot produce the quantity of water required to meet the needs of the city of St. John,” said Kathleen Langan, city councilwoman who wrote the grant application.
No water restrictions have been put into place in St. John, but Mayor Norah Gable said, if the remaining well would go out, the town of about 360 people near the Canadian border in Rollette County would be in trouble.
To go without or restrict use would be difficult as the city supplies water to the 412 students and more than 75 staff at the kindergarten through 12th grade school, said Gable, adding that many St. John residents also are elderly and already use very little water.
The defunct well was first drilled in 1969 and replaced in 1985. The water of the 1985 well is hard with high iron, manganese and sulfate content. The city constructed a water treatment plant in 1987 to help improve the water quality.
But now the well is no longer producing water. There are numerous holes in the well casing. The wet conditions the past couple of years have caused seepage, which brought sediment into the well and plugged the screen and caused the water quantity to diminish, making it unusable.
If the remaining well does go, the well driller may be able to get a pump into the old well but water production would then be restricted, Gable said.
In the meantime, the city is monitoring the water that is coming into its water treatment plant to measure use and quality.
The city would like drill the new well in the same location as the other well, located just northeast of town.

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