City water system plan update passes first hurdle

Posted 8/7/19

The Port Townsend City Council voted unanimously Aug. 5 to give initial approval to a revised water system plan that envisions the city will serve about 37% more users than previously planned for.

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City water system plan update passes first hurdle

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The Port Townsend City Council voted unanimously Aug. 5 to give initial approval to a revised water system plan that envisions the city will serve about 37% more users than previously planned for.

City Public Works Director Greg Lanning explained the new water system plan factors in an anticipated growth in the service area’s population from the current estimate of 9,500 residents to slightly more than 13,000 in 2036, which he expected would lead to an increase in water usage from roughly 1 million gallons per day now to almost 1.2 million gallons per day in 2036.

Over the long term, the plan’s goals include ensuring 1,500 gallons per minute of fire line flow for fire crews to tap into, and upgrades and extensions of the water lines.

Given the number of attendees who’d already spoken during that night’s public comment period about Pope Resources’ plans to use glyphosate sprays, special attention was paid to water filtration and testing.

The Council accepted council member David Faber’s amendment to extend the public comment period through Aug. 19 at noon.

Lanning said most of the 2019 plan’s roughly 1,100 pages are appendices referring to other documents, with only about 200 pages constituting updated material.

Although state law requires water system plans to be updated at least every 10 years, and the complete water system plan for the city was last updated in 2008, a partial update was adopted in 2014, with the understanding that the full plan would be updated following the completion of the new water treatment facility in 2017.

“Which is not to say we don’t adjust our plans on a yearly basis, to factor in issues such as climate change impacts,” Lanning told The Leader prior to the Aug. 5 meeting. “We’ve already adjusted for this summer’s drought declaration.”

Lanning noted the city’s water filtration is 0.04 microns, more than fine enough to catch the 5-micron parasite Cryptosporidium, since a single human hair is 75 microns.

Lanning acknowledged that “micro plastics” can range from 0.001 to 5,000 microns, while chemicals can make it through the mechanical filtration.

Faber asked why the city sought a waiver for synthetic and organic testing, which last occurred in 2013, and Lanning pointed out the federal Safe Drinking Water Act has grown from four agents to hundreds, enough that testing is now done on a risk-based analysis, since “you can’t test for everything,” and previous findings have shown no evidence of many of these agents.

The Leader plans to offer separate coverage of local residents’ reactions to Pope Resources’ plans.

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Tom Camfield

Spooky! I'll be long gone by then, but that 37% increase in water users, coupled with likely global-warming-inspired hotter summers and decreasing winter snow pack in the Olympics . . . wow! Meanwhile, I guess I'll be OK watering my garden for the foreseeable future.

About time for the government to take a few billion out of the military budget and get serious about finding a way to desalinate sea water.

Thursday, August 8