As much as 1 million gallons of water per day may be produced in Alexandria early next year when the Virginia-American Water Company begins operating its own production wells - the first in the city.
"I don't know as it's a gusher," said Ted Jones, company vice-president, "but it's a successful well."
According to Jones, one well has been dug on the site, which lies behind the water company offices on Duke Street, just south of the Washington Masonic Memorial, and "Our tests show the site is good enough to support a second well."
Jones predicted that the two wells could produce "up to 1 million gallons per day." The city's needs average 15 million gallons per day.
Alexandrians now are served solely by water from the Occoquan Reservoir, operated by the Fairfax County Water Authority. The Authority sells water to the Virginia American Water Company, which in turn sells it to its city customers.
The water company began looking at the feasibility of digging wells in the city after last summer's drought "in order to supplement our water supply," said Jones.
Rising costs have also been a factor, he said. In August 1977, the Fairfax County Water Authority raised its price for Occoquan water from 32 cents per 1,000 gallons to 43.2 cents per 1,000 gallons.
The cost of building the two wells on the water company property, said Jones, will come to "between $450,000 and $500,000."
The company is considering drilling more test wells this fall on city property on South Union Street, on the waterfront near the old RF&P Railroad tunnel and near Four Mile Run. The City Council must approve the test drillings, said Jones.
The company tests a site by drilling a six-inch diameter "observation well" about 400 feet into the ground, he said. If it proves promising, other smaller test wells are dug to determine how many wells the site can support.
"Before we go ahead with a production well, the health department must test the water," said Jones.
A successful well should produce water pure enough to drink from the well-head, but the company will be adding some chlorine to the water brought up from its wells, he said.
The company undertook its well drilling on the basis of information from its engineering consultants and the U.S. Geological Survey who reported that eastern Alexandria would be suitable for wells.
"Alexandria is divided into two physiographic provinces - the Piedmont and the coastal plain, east of Shirley Highway," said Jones. "The plain is the preferable formation for well production. All it gets better as you get closer to the Potomac."