Dave Noel

Dave Noel of Forsgren Engineering updated the Shelley City Council as to their current and future water capacity at their Tuesday meeting. Forsgren provides the city with engineering services, including for its water infrastructure.

SHELLEY – The Shelley City Council met on Tuesday evening for a two-hour meeting with a full agenda. Two of the agenda items, discussed back-to-back, concerned the future of the city’s ability to deliver water to residents and businesses of the city.


Dave Noel of Forsgren Engineering presented the update to the city’s water study.

“Shelley needs to get more water or curb its current use,” Noel stated. “Curbing usage through administrative enforcement is usually not very effective … unless you install meters and bill customers according to their usage. You can install meters but if you don’t bill according to usage, then it won’t work (to curb use).”

The council approved the update to the city’s water study at its Sept. 10 meeting. Noel’s Tuesday presentation summarized Forsgren’s preliminary findings. The update looked at the growth trends since the original water report was completed in 2008. Since that time, the city has expanded and added several new businesses and subdivisions both inside city limits and outside of the city in its annexation impact zone.

Noel reported, “Shelley has a deficiency in its firm capacity and a deficiency in its water rights. We recommend that the firm capacity receive prompt attention and the water rights be addressed with the next five years.”

The water update looked at the city’s current demand, modeled future demand, system carrying capacity, and well delivery capacity. The results incorporated recent pump tests performed over the last few months. Included in those pump tests was the city’s well at the city’s farm property which it acquired since 2008 and currently leases.


Shelley Well 5, which is the well at the city’s farm property, has an irrigation water right which can be transitioned to more mainline city use as seasonal or municipal use under the Department of Water Resources rules, which are complex but are also now looser than they have been in the past. Noel recommended the city begin planning how it wants to approach the transitioning of that water right.

The problem with using the well right now is that it does not have a connection into the city’s current water infrastructure. Its capacity to deliver water is also currently limited by its pump and drive.

“The costs of a new drive would be $50,000,” said Noel. “It would be more than that for a new pump.”

This cost did not include the price of connecting the well to the city’s water lines. “It would cost the city around $360,000 all together (to get Well 5 on line),” estimated councilman Jeff Kelley.

The work horse of the city’s water supply is Well 3, whose current pump rate is 2,000 gallons per minute. “Most of the current capacity is out of Well 3,” Noel commented. “If Well 3 breaks down, you have a real problem.”

In the recent pump tests, Forsgren looked at Well 4. The well logs filed with the state when the well was drilled indicated that it was drilled to 300 feet and had a 16-inch casing. Forsgren discovered the well’s depth is shallower, with a total depth of 225 feet. It is only cased to 148 feet and is an open hole in rock below that and the diameters step down less than the reported 16 inches.

The draw down during the pump test was 120 feet, much deeper than anticipated or desired. A high pump rate could cause a cone of depression which might result in pumping air.

Noel indicated that unless that well is deepened, its capacity is therefore limited to its current pump rate of 1,100 gpm. He estimated the cost of deepening the well at $80,000-$100,000.


All of the city’s wells have a combined pump rate of 3,850 gpm, which can be increased a modest amount in the short term. He projected the city needed to immediately increase its delivery capacity to 4,352 gpm to meet its current and projected near-future needs according to Forsgren’s modeled maximum daily demand for water.

Note that the pump capacity is different than the system delivery capacity, which is what the current infrastructure can deliver. The water infrastructure is all the wells, well pumps, other pumps, the water tank and the city’s water pipes taken together. It is possible for the well pump capacity to exceed the delivery capacity if the city upgraded its wells, pumps and their connections.

Noel stated the city’s water system needed to deliver a maximum daily demand of 9.0 cubic feet per second (cfs) in 2015. Since then, the maximum daily demand limit on the system has increased to 9.7 cfs in 2019. This was a much faster growth rate than the original 2008 water study anticipated, which projected that 9.7 cfs demand would be reached in 2025.

The update to the study uses a maximum daily demand of 9.7 cfs, which is the equivalent of a needed capacity of 4.352 gpm. Using linear growth projections, the study update estimates that the city will require a maximum delivery capacity of 10 cfs in 2024 and 10.3 cfs or 4,608 gpm by 2029.

“At this (growth) rate, Shelley will exceed its water right in five years,” Noel noted.

“The current maximum capacity (of the system) is 3,953. Even if the capacity was (immediately) upped to 4,000, that still leaves the city 352 gpm short today.”

The council did not make any immediate actions on the water projections.


Immediately after the presentation of the update to the water study, Reed Nord of Rocky Mountain Environmental made a presentation on some irrigation water rights available for sale through the Rocky Mountain Water Exchange.

“We’re here to explore the interest that Shelley may have in purchasing the water (rights) we have available at this time,” Nord said. “Our model shows that we can move 11 to 12 acres of water right and possibly more.” The water rights currently available are from agricultural properties in the New Sweden area immediately to the north of Shelley. These are irrigation rights which would require a transition into “municipal rights conditioned for irrigation.”

The transition of these irrigation rights could be done two different ways, Nord noted. “You could buy all the rights you need and then transfer them in pieces, or you can buy the rights in pieces and transfer them in pieces.”

The price of the rights currently for sale was not openly disclosed in the meeting. The capacity of the rights was estimated at three to four acre feet per acre.

Noel cautioned the council that the irrigation rights available were presented in terms of storage but that municipal water rights were restricted under the law by rate. He also estimated that the rights for sale would not significantly increase the city’s water right capacity.

The council did not take any action on the water rights availability at the meeting.


The city’s chili cook-off is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 4 p.m.

The council approved $4,000 for its 2020 membership in REDI, the eastern Idaho economic development organization. They voted to spend $1,500 to survey the route of the water line to the well at the city’s farm property. They also approved $35 gift cards and a maximum $20 for gift baskets for the members of the city’s committees and commissions.

They made the final approval on the Willow Estates subdivision water agreement which was originally discussed at their Sept. 10 meeting.

The council also voted to finalize the paperwork on the vehicle lease financing program with US Bank for the city’s new police vehicles. Asked for his opinion, Chief Rod Mohler said, “The vehicles are ordered and I’m happy. … Now we can get our Durangos.” The city will be leasing three Dodge Durangos for the police department.

The council voted to renew its contract with the Idaho Bench Company for 10 to 50 benches on the city’s property and streets. The former 10-year contract was $5 per bench. The new 10-year contract is for $10 per bench.

The council also voted to donate $500 to the repair of the Hobbs Junior High School scoreboard. The total cost of repairs is $1,500. The board is also used by the city parks and recreation department for some of its youth programs.