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Friday, April 12, 2024

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Wildwood Eyes More Inland Wells

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By Karen Knight

WILDWOOD – Although the City of Wildwood’s water supply has room for growth, efforts are underway to plan for future supply because of the threat of saltwater intrusion.
According to Wildwood Water Utility Director Michael McIntyre, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requiring the city to have a wellfield further inland – along what they call the “spine” of the county – further distance from the Delaware Bay, where monitoring of wells is underway for saltwater intrusion.
Test wells have been dug along the railroad tracks in anticipation of a wellfield capable of pumping 3.5 million gallons a day.
These efforts, along with updating plumbing codes and establishing emergency backup plans with other local water systems, are among the efforts underway to plan for future water needs.
Today, McIntyre said, the demand for water usage varies according to the month.
“Our peak demand was the day after the Fourth of July, 2018, when we used 9.2 million gallons,” he said. “During January, February, March the usage varies between 1-2 million gallons a day. Then, it slowly increases to about 6 million for Memorial Day, more than 8 million around July 4.
“Usually over the summer, usage is high 6-low 7 million gallons a day,” he noted. “Then after Labor Day, it slowly decreases.”
McIntyre said water is provided to Wildwood, West Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and parts of Rio Grande.
The city can meet the demands with wells on the mainland and four Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) wells on the island that are only used during summer months.
During the other nine months, the ASR well supply is being recharged from the aquifers where the water is drawn.
Wildwood was the first city in the nation to rely on ASR technology, in 1969, to supplement its local water supplies, according to David Pyne, P.E., president of ASR Systems LLC, of Gainesville, Fla.
Pyne is recognized as the pioneer and leader of ASR technology, having developed this technology in Florida, elsewhere in the United States, and overseas during the past 35 years, according to his company’s website.
“Water is stored in the Cohansey Aquifer during winter months, when spare water is available from the inland wellfield and demands are low,” he said. “The stored water is recovered at a high production rate for a few days each year, typically over the July 4 weekend, when thousands of people come to the Cape May peninsula.”
Pyne designed the ASR well in Swimming River, near Red Bank, about 30 years ago, when he first was involved in projects in New Jersey. He is familiar with Wildwood’s system and visited it in 1984.
There are somewhere around 25 ASR wells in southern New Jersey, according to Pyne. “This is a very low cost, reliable supplemental water supply,” he said. “Storage aquifers are fresh, brackish and saline, at depths up to about 3,000 feet, although most are less than about 1,000 feet. ASR costs are typically quite low, less than half the cost of other water sources.”
In New Jersey, McIntyre said the “average household uses 10,000-12,000 gallons a quarter.” In Wildwood, the average household water cost is $61 per quarter or about $244 yearly.
Pyle said there are more than 500 ASR wells nationwide, in about 140 ASR wellfields in about 25 states. ASR wells are also used around the globe.
“They are storing treated drinking water from a variety of sources, including from desalination plants, rivers, wells, and very highly treated wastewater for indirect potable reuse, agricultural and industrial water supplies,” Pyne said. “Most ASR wells are storing drinking water to meet peak summer demands, long-term storage for droughts, and for emergency water supplies such as for hurricanes and pipeline breaks.”
McIntyre said the city’s system has “plenty of allocation and capacity, and could increase flow readily if needed.”
However, with the modernization of plumbing equipment, updating code requirements, and the fact that the Wildwoods are “pretty much developed,” the utility director is optimistic that water needs for the future will be met because of the additional steps being taken.
“We’ve been steadily updating the plumbing code over the years, so water usage is actually down,” McIntyre explained. “As the older motels are being torn down and replaced by condos and townhouses, new low-flow plumbing fixtures are required. Owners may be here only on weekends instead of every day at a motel, so usage is down. There’s not a lot of grass on the island, so we’re not using a lot of water to water yards.”
The largest users of water in their system are the Boardwalk water parks, he added.
To contact Karen Knight, email kknight@cmcherald.com.

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