Port Angeles, National Park Service officials having 'open dialogue' about water problems caused by Elwha dams' sediment

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EDITOR'S NOTE — See related story today, "Glines Canyon Dam removal postponed by water plant woes," http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130328/NEWS/303289987

PORT ANGELES — Communication is progressing between city staff and the National Park Service about sediment overwhelming the ability of the Elwha River Water Treatment Plant to filter it, city officials said Wednesday, though formal meetings updating city staff on efforts to fix the problem have yet to be scheduled.

“We're having a more open dialogue now,” city Public Works Director Glenn Cutler said.

City Manager Dan McKeen sent a letter last week to Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum laying out the city's concerns about the treatment plant becoming clogged with sediment and not being able to supply enough water to four downstream facilities.

Those facilities include the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant, which was built to filter the city's municipal water.

Less surface water is being sent to the city treatment plant than expected, so the city's Ranney well, which is the primary facility for the city's drinking water, is being used more than officials had planned.

That could shorten the life of the well, McKeen said in his letter.

Inform council

The letter also said the city needs more information from park officials and called for them to attend a City Council meeting to update it on what is being done to fix the problem.

“The council needs to be informed,” Mayor Cherie Kidd said Wednesday. “That was my request.”

A presentation date has not been scheduled, Cutler said.

Creachbaum is crafting a written response to the city's letter, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Wednesday

McKeen said last week that Creachbaum responded almost immediately by phone to the city's letter, a quick reply Kidd said she appreciated.

“I think [Creachbaum's] response was quick, immediate and appropriate,” Kidd said.

“We're looking forward to receiving [her] letter in response to ours.”

The Elwha Water Treatment Plant, built as part of the $325 million restoration project, was designed to help filter sediment from river surface water to a certain threshold and send it to the Port Angeles Water
Treatment Plant, which would filter it further for city use.

Cutler said the Ranney well continues to provide enough water to the city at safe drinking levels.

“We're operating well within [water quality] parameters, and we're drawing sufficient water to supply the city,” Cutler said.

The park has announced that removing the 60 remaining feet of Glines Canyon Dam will be delayed until July while Elwha Treatment Plant work is completed, a move Cutler said the city supported.

“We are appreciative of the Park Service taking the approach of slowing the deconstruction down,” Cutler said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 28. 2013 10:53AM
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