Crestview expects to learn in February if the project to restart Well #4 and reverse the recent increase in our water rates is feasible. If not, we will be stuck with high rates for at least two more years and be in an existential crisis.
Onsite work began on Well #4 in the last week of January, and downhole investigations were scheduled to start the first week in February and be reported by the end of the month. If the results are favorable, Crestview can bring Well #4 back into production, hopefully by mid-April, at a cost of about $115,500. That could make it possible to reduce our rates later in 2022.
On the other hand, if restarting Well #4 is not feasible, the company’s continued existence is at stake. It takes at least two years to get a new well into production after selecting a site–and Crestview has no site. Given the critical importance of this project, it is odd that president Sol Chooljian said at the January 27 meeting the only reason the Well #4 investigation is being done is that, before the Well #7 permit was rejected, a County Supervisor had asked why Crestview was not investigating it.
If the deeper water is of poor quality, it will be necessary to restart the treatment plant located near Well #5. The general manager presented a revised estimate of $454,500 for that contingency. The current estimate to do both projects is $570,000. Although that is a lot of money ($912 per average shareholder), it would pay for itself in less than a year by reducing purchases of imported water.
Also reported at the January 27 meeting: Because Well #4 failed in August, Crestview was unable to pump 160 acre-feet of its 2021 allocation. This unpumped water could not be banked and could reduce our pumping rights in future years. However, it was a less bad outcome than the 300 acre-feet loss he predicted in August 2021.