Oral Histories

William D. McDougald


Bill McDougald

Q: South of the golf course?

A: No, they’re on the golf course lease of 80-100 acres. In fact, the golf course was mainly bordering four BLM quarter sections. By the way, the ranch cost $65/acre and the BLM land $2.50/acre.

Q: At one time weren’t they worried about the fertilizer at the golf course contaminating them?

A: Yes, they hired a certified greenland/fairway operator, Ned Kirk. They hired Ned to come down and supervise the watering and fertilization of the golf course. The City insisted on them doing that. And I am also a member of the Moab Country Club which leases the land from the City of Moab.

Q: That’s right, you’re quite a golfer?

A: Yes, they really flew the red flag when they brought this guy in but he’s done a good job controlling it. And they have nine monitoring wells. They drilled 9 wells that have these monitoring positions and can check this ammonium nitrate in the water from the aquifer. Before the second nine holes were developed they did quite a study. I remember we had quite a study where we were required to drill wells up by the springs, monitoring wells down below, coming down through the golf course. Monitoring wells testing movement of nitrates getting into the ground water. We have the finest drinking water in the world, just as good as it comes.

Q: So how is the water supply for Moab?

A: Last I had a handle on, I think we had water for 8750 people in Moab and see we’re sitting at 4800 or something like that.

Q: But what about Spanish Valley?

A: Their growth was bigger than Moab by far and they now own water resources. Between Spanish Valley and Moab we have sources for population of 20,000, between springs and wells. The Conservancy District drilled four wells before they found a big one. We were lucky when we penetrated the aquifer. We did geophysical studies in between and they outlined the better places to drill. You know you can use geophysics for water and that well we brought in. I witnessed the well tests. It is located about 1500 feet from an existing strong well, the George White #4. It’s about 1500-2,000 feet along the fault line.

Q: So is this all in the fractured Navajo sandstone along the fault line?

A: Yes it’s all in the fractured Navajo. And the rule of thumb with these wells if you develop along the fault line and you find a section of fractured Navajo where the water is, you’ll have a big well. I spotted one for the City and Bob Norman had previously spotted one below the springs. I think it’s number five that sits there and it used to pump water for the golf course. But it’s so sandy and it’s really weak. Well number six, located at the top of the golf course, produces 12-1500 gallons perminute. Then I was real smart so I went along the fault line an eighth of a section, 660 feet, to drill number seven. It’s in solid formation and produces only 450 gallons per minute. They use it on the golf course between irrigation seasons of Ken’s Lake water. If you hit the right fracture conditions in the Navajo along this fault, you get a big well. And I imagine you intersect a blockage of the water by down thrown block.

Q: Tell us about the fault. Some people are worried about the fault.

A: The fault through Moab? It’s stable. I’ll tell you, in Moab valley you sit over a core of anhydrite and salts in the Hermosa and you know the Hermosa comes up and, of course, it’s strong over in the gypsum hills by Mountain View, real strong and all that. Fault movements creating earthquakes do not fracture salt the way it does a solid formation. Salt will absorb the shocks. We’re sitting on the safest environment I know of, in the valley itself. Now the fault itself is there and it bifurcates and splits in two paralleling the valley. All of the salt anticlines, some eioght in number, have similar faults. And we produced our water along the east side coming down, northwest flank and that water comes in and it’s mainly fed from the Mill Creek drainage. That’s the main source of the water. We intercept if with wells and springs. Where you have fractured sandstones on Sommerville’s Ranch, out comes nice springs. But we’ve had to drill wells to supplement everything since those springs were put into culinary use. The City first bought Sommerville spring #1 located on the crossroad over to the golf course, termed Spanish Valley Drive. It’s the fenced area on your right on the way to the golf course. That is a good spring. I forget what the gallonage was but it was rather small (less than 200 gpm). Then we bought the ranch later on, in 1959. Then we developed springs #2 and #3 as culinary. We drilled big wells for supplement later on. We got into quite a water crunch in like ’75 to ’76. By that time what had happened in the aquifer and everything was production from big irrigation wells in the valley that was pulling down the water from that aquifer which is in the gravels mainly. But some of those wells interfaced with our pristine water along that fault. In fact the Corbin well that we bought later on from Delbert Oliver and associates is a big well but it has an interface of hard water from the valley gravels and the pristine water from the Navajo. We piped Corbin well flow to discharge it into the City system hard water. Later on we leased that pipe to the irrigation system and they used it in their irrigation system out in the upper valley.

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