In Manson well search, where’s the water?


MANSON – The little community in the crater is now on its fourth attempt to dig a water well.

Manson has hired a high-tech firm to locate water after three drillings in the last three years were stymied by the town’s unusual geology.

The problem is caused by the meteor that hit Manson millions of years ago, said Lanny Rosenquist, a geologist and owner and operator of Aquetech Innovation, a Fort Dodge-based geophysical consulting company.

“When the meteor hit, it blew out all the natural formations,” Rosenquist said. “It destroyed all the natural geology. Over in Fort Dodge you get certain layers; over here you don’t hit those layers. Everything’s mixed up.”

The answer to the problem also comes from above. Aquetech finds water by analyzing satellite imagery, Rosenquist said.

“There’s certain signatures, or markers, that we look for that identifies the underground channels, or the aquifers,” he said.

The current drill site is located west of NAPA Auto Parts, near the Pro Co-op anhydrous tanks. Two other potential locations were identified by Aquetech, one north of town and one south.

Crews should know if the well will work or not by Wednesday, said Mayor Dave George.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources decided it was time to dig a new well for a better backup system in late 2010, George said. At that time the community received a low-interest loan in the amount of $1.85 million to assist with the project.

A well was dug near the Manson Aquatic Center in 2011, but ran into hard granite which caused problems.

“When we dug the well last year, we ended up going through some solid granite that really had no cracks or anything that would let water through, except for a small hole,” George said in February 2012. “We were getting 140 gallons a minute, and we need 250 minimum.”

The city hired a company to crack through the rock using a gas gun, but attempts were unsuccessful.

A second test well was dug on the same block as the Manson Public Library and City Hall, but was also unsuccessful.

Later in 2013, a third well was dug at the west end of town, beyond the Manson Mennonite Church. Drilling reached 1,600 feet without finding any water-bearing rock formation. The City Council voted to abandon the site in October.

Shawver Well Co., of Fredericksburg, is handling the drilling.

Aquetech’s procedure is fairly new, but Rosenquist has been in the business for a long time.

“We’ve done wells around here for the last 30 years. Some places you just can’t find water,” he said. “And it can change – in 100 feet it can change quite a bit. That’s why you can’t just drill anywhere.”

Of course, the meteor also left a gift to Manson – it disrupted the rock layers that cause hard water elsewhere in Iowa.

“Manson has naturally soft water,” said George. “It’s a little harder to get to, but it’s worth it.”