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Boring Water District surprised by pump failure

Pump replacement could cost up to $35,000


The Boring water utility is at a crossroads. The well it drilled near Compton Road and Highway 26, which has been fraught with sand-clogged filters, now has a burned-out well pump.

The well driller and engineer attended an emergency meeting last week of the water district’s board of directors. Their expertise was needed to help the board determine the best option.

In fact, there aren’t many options.

Bob Boring, chairman of the Boring Water District, says a new pump costs between $25,000 and $35,000 — a price the small water utility can ill-afford.

Since the pump is only about 4 years old, and Franklin pumps — considered the industry’s best — are designed to last decades, the company has volunteered to conduct a $3,000 inspection and analysis of the sealed pump free of charge.

“That (pump) motor has only about 4,000 hours on it,” Boring said, “and that is like nothing for those pumps.”

Assuming the pump was defective and the district did nothing wrong in the installation or its use — such as burn the pump out by pumping sand — the company is likely to replace the pump, Boring said.

The main question is: Did the pump overheat internally because of improper use? The answer will take about a month to determine, while the company dismantles a machine that is sealed so well it can withstand operation day and night while submerged for decades.

Opening a machine sealed that well, Boring said, is a difficult and time-consuming task. The motor first must be sent to the company’s Midwest facility.

“(The company’s) first concern is that (the pump motor) got too hot pumping sand,” Boring said, “but there are no external signs that the motor was hot.”

If the inspectors determine that its use in sandy conditions contributed to the pump overheating and ruining some of its electronics, then the Boring Water District will have to find a new source of funding to replace the pump.

The board had to call another emergency meeting on the same well when the grant money ran out while the well was being drilled deeper and the driller never ran out of what Boring called “flour sand.”

At that time, the choice on the problem well was to try to get funding to drill deeper and hopefully run out of sandy soil or stop drilling and change to a different type of sand filter.

The board chose to stop drilling and try a different filter.

The well, partly paid for by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (near the well) serves the church as well as residents living north of Highway 26.

While the district was having a driller work on the well, other wells have been providing enough water for the church and other northerly customers. Their water service can continue by diverting its flow from other parts of the district.

The district is likely to have an answer regarding the condition of its pump by its November meeting. In the meantime, the well driller has capped the well and moved on to other work.

When the pump motor’s condition is known, Boring said, the board will reconvene and decide which action to take.

“We’ll cross those bridges when we come to them,” he said.

For more information, call the district’s office at 503-663-4594.