Development and analysis of a new standard operating procedure for measuring evaporation pond leakage into observation wells of unusual geometry at TEP Sundt Generating Station

Pedro Reynoso

Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

The current procedure for measuring the rate of leakage from evaporation ponds at TEP’s Sundt Generating Station lacks accuracy, and safety measures could be improved. A new procedure has been developed with the intention of improving accuracy, safety, and efficiency. The original method relies upon the transport of heavy equipment and regular contact with the fluid in observation wells located adjacent to the evaporation ponds. It also required employees to engage in strenuous work conditions in close proximity to the evaporation ponds, which increased the risk of falling into the ponds. The new, proposed procedure uses simple geometry and standard water-depth measurement techniques that may result in more accurate measurements and safer working conditions.

One challenge in the development of the new procedure is determining the dimensions of the observation wells, which are not consistently cylindrical from top to bottom. Direct measurement of observation well diameters is difficult because of restricted access to the well interior. To address this challenge, a device was designed and built to obtain accurate diameters of the observation wells. After the new procedure is tested and analyzed, the volumetric rate of pond leakage will be calculated using both methods to determine whether improved accuracy is achieved. 

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