Water diversion alarms Ruhenstroth | RecordCourier.com

Water diversion alarms Ruhenstroth

by Kurt Hildebrand

Ruhenstroth residents are planning to protest an application that they say will further lower the water levels in their wells.

An application was filed Oct. 11 with the state water engineer to divert about 15-acre-feet of water a year from Minden Well No. 4 to the Douglas County Fairgrounds well, which is located near the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department on Pinto Circle. The well provides water to the fairgrounds water system.

The diversion is required because developer Peter Beekhof purchased water from Minden for his Old Sawmill Industrial Park.

Under state law, notice is required for well owners within 2,500 feet for water diversions of 225 gallons per minute or more. While this transfer is only 9.28 gallons per minute, Minden engineer Bruce Scott wrote in a letter to well owners that when added to other applications for the same well, the 225 gallon per minute limit is exceeded.

While the application was filed on Oct. 11, some residents didn’t receive notice until Nov. 29. Copies of the notice have been going around since.

County commissioner Doug Johnson said he has called a meeting at the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department for 6 p.m. Friday.

“We need to let everyone know to come so we can hash this thing out and get the information out,” he said.

Resident Phil Oak said additional pumping from the fairgrounds well is going to affect the neighbors who have wells.

“This is hurting everyone in the area,” he said. “One of my neighbors had to spend thousands of dollars to redrill the depth of his well. In the beginning there was no problem, but now that the county has allowed all the building, including Settelmeyer’s project, there is not enough water. This thing scares the hell out of me.”

Oak said he believes the transfer is an attempt by the county to benefit a contractor without listening to residents.

“I totally believe everything is under the table and in somebody’s pocket,” he said. “The only ones who benefit from this are the contractors.”

Oaks said he didn’t get a notice of the diversion, even though he lives within 1,000 feet of the county well.

“The county does not send us notices,” he said. “A lot of people in Ruhenstroth are older and thought they bought the place they could spend the rest of their lives in and now they’ll have to come up with money they can’t afford. I don’t think that’s right.”

Ruhenstroth resident Mary Jane Harding said she believe she will have to redrill her well if the diversion goes through.

“I figure there are a lot of people who are going to have the same problem,” she said. “My personal observation is that this is designed to force us to go onto a water system.”