Purchased for water right, Reed property is dry as a bone

Perhaps they should have used a divining rod instead?

Attempts by the city of Bonney Lake to find a new water source on the Reed Property, located just outside city limits, have gone dry.

According to Public Works Director Dan Grigsby, the firm contracted to drill on the site, RH2, completed its first well on the property and found nothing but silt and clay to a depth of 1,000 feet.

The find makes it unlikely the the property, which was purchased specifically for the water right, will yield the amount of water the city hoped.

“The chances of finding water on that property are almost nil,” Grigsby told the council during the July 3 workshop meeting.

The city in 2010 purchased the 20-acre property on Barkubein Road East, just east of city limits, for $1.07 million as a potential future water source.

The land also contains a house and several farm buildings the city is presently considering uses for, but the primary reason for the purchase was to secure a future source of water.

The site does contain a productive well, but Grigsby said the well will produce only 15,000 gallons per day, not nearly as much as the 2 million per day the city had hoped to find.

City Administrator Don Morrison said engineers’ discovery of a lack of water on the property “possibly” changes the discussion about the land, but added “We’re in no rush to perfect that water right.”

But Morrison also said he did not expect the city to drill any more wells.

“Right now I don’t think we’ll try to drill on this parcel again so we’ll need to decide to put it back up for sale when the market improves or maybe use it for another purpose,” he said.

Morrison said the cost of drilling the well was approximately $40,000.

Morrison said there was a possibility the city could use the land as park space and pay back the water fund for its purchase.

“We do need fields,” he said.

Mayor Neil Johnson said in an email that he would like to see the land used as park space and plans to include additional recreational park uses on the property, including ball fields and sport courts, as part of his proposal to the council for a possible park bond next year.

The lack of water has also thrown a monkey wrench into discussion about what to do with the land.

There has been interest from several parties regarding use  of the land and the house, including a neighboring dairy, a horse owner interested in pasture land, the police department and the Greater Bonney Lake Historical Society.

The council is also considering renting out the house, which was built in 1948 and expanded in 1966. But to do so, the city would need to invest a minimum of $37,000 to bring the house to a rentable condition. The largest chunk of repair cost comes in the form of a $25,000 roof repair.

In March, the city council opted to work out a lease with Anderson Dairy to allow grazing on the land. That lease is now in place, but Morrison said the future of the property is anyone’s guess at this point.

“It’s still really up in the air,” he said.