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School district needs water to grow

The South Whidbey School District’s water system, which has its well head across the street from the high school, has a pumping system that produces 115 gallons per minute and two tanks that will hold about 200,000 gallons of water. Ken Richards, a district maintenance employee, describes the diesel pumping system that kicks in during power outages. - Gayle Saran
The South Whidbey School District’s water system, which has its well head across the street from the high school, has a pumping system that produces 115 gallons per minute and two tanks that will hold about 200,000 gallons of water. Ken Richards, a district maintenance employee, describes the diesel pumping system that kicks in during power outages.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

The South Whidbey School district wants more water for future development.

In order to get it flowing to the schools, the district is starting a two-part process that includes abandoning one well and requesting an increase in the capacity for the current system.

The district is in the final stages of getting approval from the Washington Department of Ecology to abandon an old well at the primary school and to add its capacity — 40 gallons per minute — to the district’s existing water system.

“Once we have approval to decommission the old well, then the district asks for the water rights to be added to the existing system,” Rick Pitt, maintenance supervisor for South Whidbey schools, said this week.

The well the district wants to decommission has not been in use since the late 1980s. The district’s water system across from the high school provides potable water, irrigation and fire flow water for the three schools on Maxwelton Road.

Built in 1981 to serve the new high school, its current capacity is 115 gallons per minute. That number will increase to 155 gallons per minute with the addition of 40 gallons.

The primary school well hasn’t been used since the intermediate school was built in 1988, when both schools were tied into the main system.

“The process to decommission takes several years and is actually a lot of paperwork. We are in the final stages,” Pitt said.

Once the district has approval to abandon the well, a licensed well drilling service will pull the pump out, puncture the pipe and fill the holes with grout so the well cannot be used.

The current rate of 115 gallons per minute is adequate for providing the drinking water, irrigation and fire flow to the three schools. The district currently irrigates the baseball and football fields at the high school and the upper field and lawn at the intermediate school.

“The intermediate school is the only district facility with yard sprinklers,” said Pitt.

The middle school is served by the Langley water system.

“We are planning 10 or 20 years down the road, when we will probably have more schools to serve,” said Pitt.

The district owns 40 acres of land behind the intermediate school which is enough space for two more schools.

“The system we have has gone through all the testing necessary and is more than capable of providing the additional flow,” Pitt said.

Some costs associated with the project include a fee to file with the Department of Ecology and drilling service and engineering fees.

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