ASHLAND – The City of Ashland is offering an opportunity for residents to decommission abandoned wells for free.
At the city council meeting last Thursday, City Administrator Jessica Quady informed the council that the city has sent out flyers to a group of residents in the north/northwest area of Ashland to let them know about the decommissioning program.
Landowners may receive up to 100% cost share to decommission abandoned wells through a grant the city received from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. The grant money will be used to close abandoned wells to prevent possible contamination of the city’s water system.
“We just want to make sure we’re protecting our water source,” Quady said.
The identified area is located above the aquifer that contributes to the city’s municipal well system. The city has four wells that provide drinking water to residents.
Last February, the city council was told the project will cost $40,000. The grant provides $16,500, and city will contribute $11,750, which will be matched by the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, which is a supporting partner in the program. The Lower Platte North Natural Resources District is also helping with planning, as a portion of the affected area lies within its boundaries.
Quady said there are approximately three abandoned wells the city is aware of in identified the area. Sending out the flyers and other public information efforts are being done to make sure all property owners in the area are notified of the program. No deadline has been set for the program.
“We just want in the next few weeks for people to take a look at it,” Quady added.
The program is part of the wellhead protection plan that is being developed for the city by JEO Consulting Group, Quady said. The plan was spearheaded by former Council Member Janece Mollhoff, who was an avid environmentalist during her time on the city council and now as an elected member of the OPPD Board of Directors.
The wellhead protection plan is still in draft form, Quady said. A copy is available on the city’s website, ashland-ne.com/wellheadprotection.
When completed, the wellhead protection plan will provide a guide for city officials to protect the groundwater within the plan area from contamination.
The purpose of the plan is to identify potential contaminants and develop management strategies to safeguard the city’s drinking water. Best management practices like utilizing cover crops, obtaining soil samples and allowing fertilizer to only be used at certain times of the year may be developed. The plan is voluntary.
The plan’s key components include identifying potential contaminant sources, creating an inventory of contaminant sources, containment source
management, emergency and long-term planning and public education.
An open house to introduce the plan to the public was supposed to take place last summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed that back indefinitely, Quady said.
For questions or more information, contact Quady at 402-944-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.