Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drilling a Well!!!

Each year, TMI’s Spruce Knob Mountain Center (SKMC) continues to serve more guests. As these schools and private groups utilize the facility more frequently, the limitations of our existing water system become more apparent. It is not unusual for us to run out of water when large groups visit, especially in the summer and fall. The water source for SKMC is a spring that is located just above the facility that has been determined by the State to be under the influence of surface water. We continue to chlorinate our water before it is used by our visitors; it is potable, safe to drink, and has never made anyone sick, however, this treatment alone does not meet WV state standards for a public water source.

We are subject to federal drinking water regulations, which now require us (as a system that serves the public) to change our system of supply or treatment. We can either drill a well to provide groundwater that is not influenced by surface water, or we must add a filtration system to our treatment regimen, in addition to the chlorination. The cost of pursuing either option can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are hoping to have success in drilling a well because there are fewer ongoing maintenance costs associated with providing drinking water from a good groundwater source and because it could also solve the problem of sufficient quantity.

Drilling a well is a gamble. It is quite expensive and there is no "we find water or your money back" guarantee. This is a real concern to us, as we are some of the highest residents of the state of WV. For months we have consulted geologists, hydrologists, neighbors, elected representatives, well drillers, and dousers. There were many different predictions for our well and several suggested locations, water depths, and flow rates. All of these were educated guesses, as we don't really know the answer until the drilling is done.
We decided on a location that was recommended by the geologist, the well driller, and the douser, and that also worked well for us to tie the water into our existing water and electrical system. The drilling began about 10:30 a.m. this morning and ended around 3:00 p.m. The drilling company, B.W. Smith Well Drilling, struck water at 3 different levels on their way down, one around 65 feet, the next around 85 feet, and the highest flow of all at 180 feet. The drill has extremely high flows now, up to 40 gallons per minute. He does expect this to drop, but even then, this flow would be more than adequate to run the Spruce Knob Mountain Center.
This is a major victory in the well drilling battle, but the drama continues. Before we can throw our celebration, we must get the water tested by state labs to prove that it is not under the influence of surface water. Keep your fingers crossed and we'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Staff Training

This spring, TMI is welcoming 9 new staff members to our team of field instructors. This new group began their new staff training at noon on Friday, April 9 and will conclude their training session on Sunday, April 18. This 10 day training will cover all of the content, group handling, campcraft, and risk management skills associated with being a TMI Field Instructor.

The training was designed and is being run by the Appalachia Program's Education Coordinator, Beth Boehme. The new staff spent the first three nights learning their way around the Spruce Knob Mountain Center and hiked out into the woods today for a 6 night camping, field-based training session.