By JOHN BARTLIT
A current public issue is whether County water wells should be drilled in County park lands on the edge of White Rock Canyon.
The public discussion has dealt little, if any, with alternative drilling technology, namely, directional drilling, also called slant drilling.
Directional drilling goes back 50 years, but major advances came as computers became commonplace.
Directional drilling is the technique of drilling wells at a slant, instead of always boring straight down. Not only can holes be drilled at an angle, their paths can curve and bend to reach more places under ground from fewer work sites.
A well can easily bend enough to reach places up to 1,200 feet off to any side of a drill site and thousands of feet down.
Lateral wells can extend much farther to the side – out four miles and more – at still greater cost. Up to four wells can be drilled from a single drilling pad.
The other side of the story is always cost. Directional drilling is more complex, which may add $30,000 to $100,000 to the cost of a well within the easier 1,200-foot distance from the pad.
At more cost, the range can go out the four miles and more. These dollars have meaning only when compared with the typical cost of a vertical well: about $1 million.
I am not an expert in drilling technology, its costs, or the local geology. I do believe technical options should be part of discussing substantial public issues and decisions.