PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville deals with dramatic seasonal swings in water demand, from less than a million gallons a day in the winter, to more than four-million gallons in the summer. Development of more data centers for Facebook and Apple are expected to put an ever greater strain on the city's water supply in the future. But, city officials hope a new Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system will help conserve water for use during peak times.
City Engineer Eric Klann says the project began millions of years ago, "Four-and-a-half-million years ago, the Crooked River was actually underneath where our airport is today, and volcanic events moved it to its current location. But, as the river moved, all of the deposits from that ancestral river remained. So, what that means is we have a very confined aquifer that has a lot of storage capacity in it." Scientists estimate that ancient canyon could hold much more, and be more protected, than would be possible with a manmade reservoir. "What this will essentially allow us to do is take our additional water production capacity, when demands are really low and stream flows are high, and use that; store a little bit of it every day to meet those few months during the summer when demands are very high," Klann explains. "Instead of producing a million gallons a day to meet the demand during the winter," Klann says, "You would produce two-million gallons, store that in the aquifer up by the airport, and just use that additional water to meet those summertime demands."
Klann say new ASR will require the city to build new infrastructure, "This winter, you’ll see drill rigs all over town, drilling for new production wells [pictured, above]. Then, we’ll start construction on our water treatment plant, hopefully, later this coming spring." He expects the entire system will come on line by the summer of 2020. It's an expensive undertaking, but Klann says the city won't foot the bill, "Total price tag on the project is $8.7 million. Apple has agreed to fund this project." He tells KBND News the city will eventually pay back Apple as new ratepayers come on line, saying it's how "growth pays for growth."