On June 5, the Graham City Council began the process of passing two ordinances concerning the use of private water wells in town, and city officials say that as more Grahamites drill private wells to access ground water, the more necessary these ordinances become. 

Jarrod Hampton, with Graham-based Zack Burkett General Contractors, drills water wells in the area. The cost is $10 per foot with a 180-foot minimum depth required, making the average well $1,800, said Hampton. It takes him about an hour to 90 minutes to drill a well, and he’s drilled two in town this summer, but said that a majority of the wells are drilled in the county. 

“We’re drilling more wells today than ever,” said building official Jason Cottongame at the meeting.

The first ordinance, #1020, if passed will require individuals to apply for a code variance to use private water wells in lieu of the city’s public water system.

“What we are proposing is an ordinance that clearly states and defines that all the structures in town be connected to the city’s potable water source unless otherwise granted a variance by the city,” explained Cottongame.

This creates a mechanism that would enable the city to continue billing citizens who are no longer using city water in combination with their sewage and garbage collection services, explained Cottongame. 

“When they connect to a water well and come in to discontinue their service, we turn it off and we’re done with it,” he said. “What happens is they are getting sewage and garbage collection at no cost. When they come in and apply for the variance at no cost, we’ll grant it, but we’ll make note to the file that they still keep getting their sewage and trash collection bills.”

According to Cottongame, citizens not using city water but still taking advantage of sewer and trash services currently account for approximately $400 per month in uncollected fees for services used.

The second ordinance, # 1021, requires anyone who is using a private water well to have a sign no larger than two square feet displayed prominently in front of their home or business indicating that use.

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.