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Darrell Long to meet with community
Landowner to discuss controversial high capacity well proposal
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Dr. Darrell Long has accepted an invitation to meet with the local community to discuss his proposed high capacity well in a church-sponsored dialogue.

The public meeting will be held at the Mt. Sterling Lutheran Church at 3 p.m., Sunday, October 9. The church is just miles from the site of Long’s proposed high-capacity well in Utica Township near Copper Creek, which has sparked concern and opposition in the community.

The Ohio podiatrist and Utica Township landowner is seeking a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to construct a well on a property he owns off Highway 171 just west of the Village of Mt. Sterling. A major concern of the DNR, local residents and fishermen is the well’s proximity to Copper Creek and its potential effect on that Class 1 Tout Stream.

As proposed, Long’s high capacity well will have the capability to pump 500 gallons per minute.

Long was invited several weeks ago by the local pastoral group comprised of Father Zacharie Beya (St. Mary’s and St Philip’s Catholic Churches), Pastor Anna Sorenson (Mt. Sterling and Utica Lutheran Churches), Pastor Kent Johnson (Luther Memorial and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches) and Pastor Lorie Betz (United Methodist Churches in Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove). Long will meet privately with the clergy before meeting with the public to answer questions.

At this point, the well permit is still in the permitting process pending completion of a test well mandated by the DNR to finalize determinations of well casing depths and to update the impact analysis if necessary.

The initial permit application was for 500,000 gallons of water pumping per day. The DNR proposed conditions on the permit in June lowering the amount to 250,000 gallons per day with variances to both increase and decrease pumping rates to reflect seasonal changes of the water flow rate in Copper Creek.

The changes are intended to protect the stream’s status as a Class 1 Trout Stream by ensuring adequate water flow to maintain a cool enough temperature for the trout to survive.

The main purpose of the test well is to get a clearer picture of the depth of various bedrock layers and their characteristics. The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) will analyze the information gathered by the test well. With this data, they will be able to provide detailed information about the bedrock, including the distribution of fine-grained material and the rate of inflow of groundwater into the open drill hole.

The DNR has requested that Long give them two weeks notice before the test well is drilled to allow time to coordinate efforts with the WGNHS, according to Larry Lynch, the DNR hydrogeologist responsible for overseeing the high capacity well permit.

Long indicated the test well may not be drilled until next year, as he is still reviewing bids with contractors for the work.

Stating that he considered drilling the test well to be a voluntary action, Long said his desire is to ensure that he draws water only from the deep aquifers.

“I want evidence to show that I won’t effect my neighbors’ wells,” Long said.

If Long decides to conduct a voluntary pumping test on the test well, the results will provide even more detailed information about the hydrologic connection between the proposed well and the various surface water features in the area, according to Lynch. This could lead to reconsideration of the impact analysis and the conditions of approval.