Sodaville Faces Setback on New Well Project

Mayor Brian Lewis, left, swears in Brandi Libra for her new position as city administrator/recorder. Photos by Sarah Brown

Sodaville city councilors during their April 18 meeting expressed frustration over a years-long process to build a sixth well that now faces a hurdle, setting them back.

For nearly a decade the City of Sodaville has been “chipping away” at a water expansion project on resident Ray Jackman’s property, and they were expecting $365,000 in funding to help with the project.

Mayor Brian Lewis told the council that shortly before former City Administrator/Recorder Alex McHaddad left last month, he was told the city would need to file for water rights for the well on Jackman’s property. To receive the funding, the project would have to be completed by June 2025 and the council sees no way to get that done now that they have this new hurdle regarding water rights.

“In the future, we can try to work things out and try to get back into it, see if we can’t get that money again, but right now it’s pretty much gone,” Lewis said.

A study was done on Jackman’s property about seven to 10 years ago, and again about two years ago on a September day, which council said was the worst time of year to find water, and yet the property showed a healthy amount available. Council alluded that the previous administration in the past decade moved too slowly and now they find themselves at this point.

The council agreed the whole situation has been “very discouraging.”

A $60,000 grant from the state is still on the table for Sodaville that will assist in the cost of trucking water in from Lebanon next season. City Administrator/Recorder Brandi Libra said she will keep an eye out for new grants that can help with water projects.

Meanwhile, the council is working on trying to get well number five back online.

Council told Lebanon Local that a former water master said the well could no longer be used, but they cannot find any reports to indicate why that was the case. They believe it’s because of a possibility of iron bacteria in the well. It has been offline for a few years now.

Lewis noted that when well five was functioning, it produced as much water as all the other wells and they only had to truck in water one or two months out of the year.

Jackman, speaking from the audience at the meeting, said he contacted Star Water Systems who said treating iron bacteria is not a big deal. They suggested getting the well pump reconnected and pumped for a few hours, then bringing in a sample for testing.

“That will tell him what he needs to do in order to treat that well,” Jackman said.

There will be some trial and error during treatment until they find the right treatment balance.

“If we can get that cleared up and get it back online, I think it’s gonna help,” Lewis said.

Public Works Director JD Burns suggested the possibility of bringing in a witcher for a new well near well number two. Currently well two is producing less than 1,000 gallons a day, he said.

Also, Lewis reported the mayor of Lebanon invited Sodaville to discuss the possibility of bringing water lines from their new Crowfoot Road project into Sodaville. After some discussion on the matter, the general consensus was the Sodaville council was not interested in connecting to Lebanon’s water system. While some said they didn’t like the taste of Lebanon’s water, Councilor Joseph Parsons noted doing so would remove the only operating revenue Sodaville has.

“We need to try to keep our water resources here in the city of Sodaville,” Councilor Jeff Hensley said. “Our water’s better than theirs; it’s untreated right now and it’s better water.”

In other business, the council:

  • Swore-in Brandi Libra as city administrator/recorder.
  • Burns reported a water loss of a little more than 11%, the second month in a row he’s seen that happen. Looking further into the matter, he and Libra found a discrepancy with accounts between Quickbooks and READy Manager (software used for the city meters). It might be that some residents haven’t been billed for the last few months, he said. He is still working through the situation to figure out what happened.
  • Discussed during public comment how they might read meters and manage other needs while Burns is away on vacation. Lewis said he usually takes over the tasks in Burns’ absence, but the two both have planned vacations at the same time this year.
  • Approved a motion to hire Mannix Law Firm.