DAMMERON VALLEY — At a dedication ceremony held Monday morning, representatives from Dammeron Valley Water Works and local residents marked the installation of a solar-powered pumping system for the community’s North Ridge Well Field.
“It’s the future,” Dammeron Valley developer Brooks Pace said.
Lisa Chauvin, office manager for Dammeron Valley Water Works, told St. George News that the process of gaining approval, securing funding and preparing Well No. 3 for installation has taken roughly four months in all.
The installation comprises three photovoltaic ground-mounted panels and two pumps. The panels generate a combined 40 kilowatts of energy. The system was manufactured in Europe by German company Lorentz and installed by Southwest Sales, Service & Pumps of St. George.
“It’s a very unique pump that’s made just for solar power because it’s so variable,” Pace said. “Sometimes it’ll be pumping 30 gallons, and sometimes it’ll pump 200 gallons.”
Lorena Picazo, co-owner of Southwest Sales, Service & Pumps, told St. George News that the rugged terrain of the well field made access difficult. Once the area was cleared and the ground leveled, installation took a little more than a month.
During the peak of summer and with full sun, the system is expected to pump approximately 325,000 gallons of water to Dammeron Valley’s tanks daily. Over the course of a year, Pace said Dammeron Valley Water Works aims to pump 81 million gallons, roughly 90% of the community’s current annual usage.
This new installation is the latest expansion in an ongoing effort to reduce energy costs for the community as well as dependency on the power grid. Dammeron Valley Water Works installed their first solar pump within the North Ridge well field in September 2018.
Pace said this system, capable of pumping approximately 100 gallons per minute under full sun – or 20% of the community’s supply – was intended not only as a backup for the existing pumps in the case of a power outage but also as a pilot that could eventually open the door to additional solar pumps.
“It was successful and everything that we hoped it would be,” he said.
Well No. 4, the largest in the North Ridge field, has a 100-horsepower electric pump that will remain at the ready to supplement shortages. Dammeron Valley Water Works hopes this pump will only be needed at night and on weekends when power costs are one-third of daytime rates.
Dammeron Valley currently has about 500 homes. Anticipating future growth, Pace said that plans for a solar-pumped fifth well, deeper into the community’s aquifer to access colder water, are on the horizon but still three or four years away.
The installation at Well No. 3 is three times larger than the pump installed two years ago. Pace said that the total cost for both systems was approximately $200,000 plus an additional $50,000 spent on fencing around the well site to prevent deer from damaging the solar panels.
“It will pay for itself in about 10 years in power savings – maybe quicker because power rates are going up,” he said. “And we’ll have many years of free water.”
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