‘Erratic’ test well readings might mean nothing

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Test results on well water levels for December are in.

Test wells that gauge water levels on Shelter Island were all down in December. Three of the 16 wells were at their lowest level ever recorded for the month of December.

But this isn’t a cause to worry, according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who reported on the well levels at a Town board meeting Monday. In the report, Mr. Dougherty said, it was noted that the last two weeks of December saw heavy rainfall on the Island.

But test wells going up or down might not even mean anything in the grand scheme of things, according to John  Benvegna, a hydrogeologist hired by the town’s Irrigation Committee, a group charged with studying the use of automatic sprinkler systems . Mr. Benvegna is a consultant working out of the White Plains office of Connecticut-based Leggette, Brashears & Graham.

Mr. Benvegna recently cautioned the Irrigation Committee that monthly monitoring of the water levels conducted for the town by the United States Geological Survey doesn’t offer sufficient information to know if the situation is worsening, leveling off or getting any better.

Ken Pysher, who compiles the USGS information for the town’s Water Advisory Committee, acknowledged that the data compiled through the years doesn’t provide the ability to identify trends he said are “erratic.”

Even so, in a report, Mr. Pysher identified the test wells at Big Ram, Little Ram and Dering Harbor at their lowest ever for readings in December, and the Shorewood well was approaching its lowest December reading.

Mr. Pysher did report on trends, writing: “The water levels in the Brander/Lilliput and Shelter Island Heights wells have started to trend up. All other eleven well water levels are still trending down.”