Blog by Patti Ferry, Newport Chamber of Commerce
We started our final field trip for 2017 on a rainy Thursday morning at the Seal Rock Water District offices where we were greeted by the aromas of Pacific Sourdough Bakery’s goodies fresh from the ovens. Adam Denlinger facilitated this trip and gave us a brief overview of the day’s itinerary. He also has a great piece of historical pipe he can sell you for a mere $2.5 Mil.
Then off we went to pile into vans and trucks to traverse to Stop #1, The Newport-Seal Rock Water District Emergency Intertie. Here Adam and Tm Gross tag teamed a discussion on this emergency station which has been built to withstand a catastrophic event, however, the lines traversing the county to carry the water supply may not survive. They pointed out the shock absorber system set under the pipes in the building. Click here to see the video for the first stop.
Back to the vehicles to head south to the Waldport Water Treatment Plant which sits above Eckman Lake in Waldport. Here Scott Andry told us about the plant that was built in 1982/83. In 1996 they added a sedimentation station and there are plans for future upgrades as systems age out. We headed outside to observe the collection tank and learned that the station is gravity fed from two creeks for 10 months of the year and then water is pumped up from Eckman Lake for the two low water summer months. They have the water rights to a fourth water source which is part of their emergency plan and future planning. Once back inside the plant we were shown a fun depiction of the sediment layers the water passes through. Starting with anthracite (coal), then through garnet and silica sands and finally course gravel. (This is the system used by other stations we learned throughout the trip but this was a great show and tell item.) The filters need to be changed out around the 20 year mark. However all the plants backflush/recharge the water through the filters about once a week to keep them clean.
Ty is the plant operator and he said they have a 300,000 tank that gravity feeds water to the town. They have 2.3 million gallons in reserve. They have one booster station that was added by the new high school for fire protection but later learned it wasn’t needed so it has never been started up. Some of the challenges they face are the rising costs of upkeep on an older building and equipment. They are working on interconnectivity with the SRWD as the Waldport plant only goes to the bridge and south to the end of town. Click here to see the video for the second stop.
In the vehicles to travel further down Hwy 101 we came to Southwest Lincoln County Water District treatment plant where we were greeted by David Whitlock. David said they have three employees plus himself (plant operator). He likes having a small team to work with. They pump from two tanks at 350 gal/min and 200 gal/min with 2 million gallons in reserve. They sit at an 8 mile mark between Waldport and Yachats filling the water needs of those in this area. They have received outstanding performance awards from the State of Oregon for their safe and efficient work. They use a higher pressure system with the water fed through reducing valves. While here we learned the water district was established in I945 and it was only about 20 years ago the Oregon Health Authority required water treatment plants.
We learned that the first rainfalls in the fall tend to churn up more sediment but all of the systems we visited. David flushes his system about every 20 hours. They have two plants in their district in the event of a natural catastrophe they have put generator power at both plants and pump stations. The work vehicles have been moved to higher land at the station we were visiting to be out of the tsunami zone. Click here to see the video for the third stop.
Back to the caravan to travel on down to the Yachats Water Treatment Facility and our host, Rick McClung. This is a publicly owned plant built in 1992 and they pump approximately 500,000 gallons per day though this rises in the summer. There has been a rise in building permits over the past year with 13 in 2017 which is a lot for a small community. There are plans for building another plant to help meet the increased demand with completion scheduled for the summer of 2018. A lack of water may mean the hoteliers cannot do laundry in the summer months as often. This has a major impact on the economy.
They receive their water from gravity fed streams as they sit between two mountains. We walked out back to see a beautiful water fall cascading down to feed the plant. There has been a landslide putting a tree and its root ball in the pond below the falls. Rick said he’ll have to wait until spring to hire someone to remove it. Then the Partnership went into action with Tim saying he can get one of his excavators from Newport Public Works down to help Rick out. This is what the Partnership can do, help build connections, educate and plan together. Click here to see the video of the fourth stop.
We learned this is a semi-automated plant which means it can run with less on-site staffing. They have 1.5 million gallons in storage. There is 500 gallons of raw water storage. When asked why he doesn’t draw from the Yachats River he responded that because of low water levels in the summer and protected habitat they cannot use it. They can get water from the SW Lincoln County Water District, however there is a lot of rock to go through or around.
We headed to the Yachats Commons to wrap up and enjoy lunch provided by Adam and his crew at the SRWD.
Every water district is proud of the service and water quality they provide.
All the districts see an impact on their summer usage and each community sees dramatic population growth form tourism. Tim noted the Newport is the center hub of the fishing industry and the demand for water from the fisheries is a major impact also.
The water districts all appear interconnected and there is also an “interconnectivity” with agencies and companies (i.e. forest land).
There is a critical need to improve connectivity of water system to water system.
There are a significant number of water providers in the MCWP and our model differs from the others in the state due to our fishing, timber, tourism needs versus agricultural or metropolitan. We also do not have as much access to ground water as other parts of the state due to our geology.
There are limited granting sources in Oregon and we need to work together to identify projects that provide multiple benefits to our communities, the environment, and the economy.