/ Modified jun 15, 2023 4:53 p.m.

Why water well goes dry

Pima County is helping with a solution.

Water faucet

In March, the only drinking water well in the unincorporated southern Arizona community of Why, stopped working. A resolution came earlier this week.

After months of investigating, a hole in the well casing was the culprit causing the well’s surrounding gravel pack to fall in.

Environmental Quality Manager at the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ), Jennifer Lynch said well maintenance operators began to bail the well back in April.

“Their plan now is to sleeve the well, with an eight-inch steel casing,” Lynch said.

Installation of a new sleeve casing is set to begin next Monday. Officials hope to pump water soon thereafter.

Maintenance operator and board member of the Why Domestic Water Improvement District, Bill Hadley said these issues don’t happen very often. Generally, wells should last 40 to 50 years.

“The water temperature when it gets to the surface here, it’s still sitting at about 103 degrees to 105 degrees, and the temperature down there really plays a big part in the deterioration of some of the equipment that we put down there,” Hadley said.

The public drinking well had been installed fairly recently in 2009. Hadley says the pumps and motors in the Why area only last about three to five years.

Last month, the Why DWID requested the Pima County Board of Supervisors to declare a state of emergency for the area of Why, seeking financial support.

The community had been hauling water from the Town of Ajo, creating a financial burden, on top of maintenance fees.

Hadley said since then, the Why DWID has been in contact with state agencies and nonprofit organizations, integrating new information into the community’s Emergency Operation Plan.

Lynch said PDEQ is responsible for oversight of public water systems that serve 50,000 people or less, to conduct sanitary surveys for monitoring, compliance assessments, and enforcement. The agency also works closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

“We sort of work together to regulate the water systems if there are any issues as in the case of the Why water system,” Lynch said.

As of May 29th, PDEQ obtained oversight of the Why water system, along with six others.

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