Piedmont finds drilling a tough go

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Piedmont Park officials drill and drill. But they are having little success.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy, the non-profit caretakers of the crown jewel of Atlanta’s park system, wants to drill to tap underground sources of water. That will, in turn, allow them to irrigate the park and skirt tough city restrictions on outdoor watering. Those rules meant large-scale events including the Atlanta Pride Festival were booted from city parks this year.

Monica Thornton, the conservancy’s vice president and chief marketing development officer, said the first drilling attempt revealed a well site that is expected to yield 50 gallons of water per minute, enough to water the park’s 1,000 trees. A crew drilled about 500 feet, the equivalent of one and two-thirds football fields, to find the water.

Starting this week, the conservancy plans to run a 30-day test on the first site before building a permanent pipe and pump system next to Park Drive near Lake Clara Meer.

Here’s how it will work: The conservancy will draw water directly from the lake to irrigate the park. The well water will be pumped into the lake to replenish it.

The conservancy’s second and third priorities, which could be met by future wells, are to water the newly renovated $2.1 million athletic fields in the Active Oval and the rest of the park.

The goal is for the park to become less dependent on the city of Atlanta’s water and the attendant restrictions during the ongoing drought.

The park has five other possible locations for wells, though they are in remote areas of the park and too far away to replenish the lake.

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