Onalaska looks to improve water well No. 9

City engineers want to add water treatment facility

The city of Onalaska is hoping to get more use out of its largest water well by expanding the well house and filtration system.

Onalaska has four water wells; however, for quite some time now, the city has only been using three of them. That’s because its largest well has elevated levels of iron and manganese, which can cause the water to taste a little funny or have a rust color to it.

Officials said it’s not a health concern, but the city is hoping an added water treatment facility will allow them to use all four wells on a regular basis.

A father of two, Josh Landsinger, has lived in Onalaska for about three years.

“Want me to fill up your watering can?” said Landsinger.

His 2 1/2-year-old daughter is in the process of growing tomatoes. Landsinger and his family live across the street from water well No. 9 in Onalaska, but about the only thing they use tap water for is watering their plants.

“Most of the time we will do the tap water for cooking and watering the plants, and that’s really about it,” said Landsinger. “We buy filtered water gallons and just do refills instead of using the tap water for drinking.”

Plus, the water well isn’t in operation very often.

“It’s the largest capacity well we have, so it can pump the most water per minute,” said Keven Schubert, assistant city engineer in Onalaska.

For many years now, the city has limited its use of the well because of its high levels of iron and manganese, which gives the water a rust color.

“Right now we really only use it during high demand, summertime, and a lot of watering of lawn and gardens,” said Schubert.

That’s putting a strain on the other wells in the city.

“The three primary wells we use are located at the northern end of Onalaska, so from a hydraulic standpoint, we have to pump water fairly far to get out to the eastern side of Onalaska,” said Schubert. “A treatment facility will allow us to hydraulically pump water in a shorter distance and also decrease the water age that exists on some of the far eastern ends of the community.”

Not only will the water quality improve, but it might also convince Landsinger to give the tap water one more chance.

“Once the filtration system is updated, we will give it a try and see if it tastes good for us, and I think if it does we will stay with it,” said Landsinger.

An early cost estimate of the project is around $3.25 million.

The financing is still being worked out, but there are a couple of options, including a bigger water bill for residents.

Onalaska’s City Council will vote on the water facility upgrade Tuesday night. If the council approves, the consulting engineer will begin working on a final design.