Bremerton remains a solid contender in the fifth National
Mayor’s Water Pledge Challenge, which encourages people to become
involved in water conservation.
At the beginning of this month, Bremerton started out in the
contest ranked first among cities of similar size across the United
States. Since then, the city has dropped to second, behind Andover,
Minn. To get back into first place, a fair number of residents in
Bremerton and the surrounding area will need to take the pledge for
water conservation before the end of the month.
The pledge involves answering a series of questions about one’s
willingness to save water, electricity and other natural resources.
To enter, go to www.mywaterpledge.com. When
finished with the questionnaire, one can enter a contest to receive
some nice prizes.
In 2013 and 2014, Bremerton came in first in the competition
among cities of similar size. In 2012 and 2015, Bremerton came in
third. In all four years so far, Bremerton has ranked first among
similarly sized cities in Washington state.
“Water is Bremerton’s remarkable resource,” Mayor Patty Lent
said in a
news release (PDF 139 kb). “I encourage all Bremerton residents
to pledge to learn more about their water and energy use at home.
This challenge, which runs through April, is an exciting
opportunity to learn about water wise habits as we engage in a
friendly competition with other cities across the nation to create
a more sustainable environment.”
Seattle, which is ranked fifth among cities its size, is the
only other city in Washington state to rank in the top 10. Olympia
is 12th for its size. Port Townsend is 17th. Port Orchard is 74th.
Poulsbo is 94th. Bainbridge Island is higher than 500th.
The water pledge, which is available until the end of April, is
sponsored by the Wyland
Overall, the Kitsap Peninsula is expected to have enough water
for people and fish for many years into the future, as long as the
water is managed well, according to a groundwater model developed
by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The model offers reassuring findings for residents of the Kitsap
Peninsula. It is also encouraging to see local water, sewer and
public works officials working together to plan for infiltrating
stormwater along with recycling wastewater for irrigation. Those
efforts will not only protect the peninsula’s water resources but
will save money for water customers.
Lonna Frans of the U.S. Geological Survey met this week with
members of WaterPAK — the Water Purveyors of Association of Kitsap
— to discuss the conclusions of a five-year, $1.4 million study of
water resources across the Kitsap Peninsula. Lonna said a final
written report should be available in about a month. (See website
The most impressive part of the groundwater model is the mapping
of geology across the entire peninsula, based on more than 2,100
well-driller logs that describe the type of soil at various depths.
Putting that information together provides a three-dimensional
picture of the underground structure, including sand and gravel
deposits, which contain water, along with layers of clay and
compressed soils, which slow down the water movement.
By monitoring water levels in 66 wells over time and accounting
for rainfall and groundwater withdrawals, the computer model
provides a dynamic picture of what happens under various
conditions. The model can be used to predict what will happen to
Kitsap’s aquifers under various rainfall scenarios, including long
periods of drought.
The model also can predict what will happen to streamflows under
various rainfall scenarios. The Kitsap Peninsula has no mountain
snowpack to supply the streams with water during dry summer months,
so the water must come from slow-moving underground supplies.
Now that the model is complete, it can be run for almost any
pattern of rainfall or drought that one wishes to dream up. For
example, running the model with average rainfall and no pumping at
all (close to a predevelopment condition) would bring the average
groundwater level up about 25 feet — although groundwater levels in
some places would be raised more than in other places.
Streamsflows under the no-pumping scenario would be an average
of about 2 percent higher — although this would be difficult to
measure with current instruments. Nobody would really notice the
If pumping across the peninsula were increased by 15 percent,
there would not be much difference in aquifers near the surface and
only a two- or three-foot drop in aquifers around sea level.
Streamflows would go down by a fraction of a percent but not enough
Decreasing groundwater recharge by 15 percent, such as paving
over the landscape with new roads, houses and parking lots, would
have a greater effect on streamflows.
Again, not all areas on the peninsula will see the same effects.
The model can be used to zero in on specific streams and their
watersheds — although the smaller the area of study, the less
accurate the prediction is likely to be.
Bob Hunter, manager of Kitsap Public Utility District, said the
model can be used to predict the effects that new wells would have
on streamflows as the population grows. The model could advise
managers whether it would be advisable to pump certain wells at
certain times of the year and hold back at other times.
Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager for the city of
Bremerton, said the model can also be used to make sure
aquifer-recharge areas are protected and that industrial facilities
that store large quantities of chemicals are not located where a
spill could contaminate a major underground water supply.
Morgan Johnson, general manager of Silverdale Water District,
said he would like to use the model to predict what will happen
when highly treated effluent from the Central Kitsap Wastewater
Treatment Plant is used to irrigate ball fields and other areas in
Central Kitsap. Efforts between the water districts and Kitsap
County might lead to greater infiltration of water and greater
groundwater supplies to be pumped from existing wells throughout
The USGS provided half the costs for the study. The other half
was shared among Kitsap PUD; Silverdale Water District; West Sound
Utility District; North Perry Water District; Manchester Water
District; the cities of Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Gig
Harbor; Washington Water, a private utility; and the Suquamish and
Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes.
Store plenty of water. That’s my first bit of advice for
earthquake preparedness. I suggest storing water for drinking —
enough to last a week — and maybe some extra water for washing and
If we’re going to prepare for an earthquake, let’s prepare for a
big one. Then we’ll be ready for smaller ones or even severe storms
with the potential to isolate us. Getting ready for an emergency
can help reduce the anxiety of thinking about a long power outage,
broken water pipes and other damage. Do what you can, then realize
that recovery will come, though it could take time.
If you would rather ignore the dangers, I guess that’s one
option for dealing with this kind of anxiety. But it could be a
costly approach, one ultimately filled with regret.
I recently had the privilege to be part of a team of reporters
who wrote about the effects of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake along the
Seattle fault. If you haven’t read the stories in the Kitsap Sun, I
urge you to take a look at “The
Danger Below Us.”
It may seem like a random number — 7.2 magnitude, large for any
earthquake — but people need to understand that this earthquake
would occur at or near ground level on a fault that runs through
the center of Kitsap and King counties. That’s essentially right
next door to hundreds of thousands of people.
Such an earthquake is not imaginary. It has happened before —
long before any cities were built. Where the fault broke free, the
land and seabed were raised upwards by more than 20 feet. Evidence
is still visible at the south end of Bainbridge Island, where a
submerged beach is now high and dry.
Most of us have heard concerns about the worrisome Cascadia
subduction zone earthquake, which raised alarms after the New
Yorker magazine described its potential effects. But for many
residents of Puget Sound, a quake on the Seattle fault could be far
worse, though probably less likely over the next 50 years.
The Kitsap Sun stories were based upon an earthquake scenario
developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and presented
to local governments in a “Draft
Risk Report.” A separate scenario for a 6.7-magnitude quake was
developed in 2005 by
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, which modeled the
effects of fault rupture from Seattle through Bellevue to the
The death and destruction in either scenario is hard to imagine,
and who wants to think about devastation in this seemingly peaceful
part of the world? Keep in mind that even in a worst case, most
people will survive to rebuild and go on with their lives, as they
have in other parts of the world, including Japan. As we have
learned from other areas, being prepared can make a real
When I think about getting prepared, I begin with water. We
cannot live without it. The preparedness
list published on the Kitsap Sun’s website includes developing
an emergency plan for your family, addressing structural problems
with your house, learning first aid and several other things.
In the matter of the early-warning system, President Obama’s
proposed budget to Congress, released Tuesday, includes $8.2
million for the early-warning system. See the
news release from Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer.
A good explanation about how people might benefit from the
early-warning system is provided by Richard Allen in a presentation
Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C., called “The Resilience Summit.” This
issue is discussed in a YouTube video
from 7:40 to 14:00 minutes into the video.
Another video, below, provides additional details about the
design of the early-warning system and how it would function in the
Los Angeles region. Called Shake Alert, the project has its
own website. The
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is a key part of the
Lawn Dude, a cartoon character invented to convey a
water-conservation message, has appeared on billboards in Southern
California, where he has become known for his frank but witty
When first introduced in the summer of 2014, Lawn Dude had this
to say: “I’d be the first to admit that I love using lots of water,
but I’m cutting back on my drinking because, take it from me,
nobody likes a drunk lawn.” Read the
press release issued on July 31, 2014.
Lawn Dude was launched as a cooperative effort between the
Southern California Water Committee, a nonprofit educational
partnership, and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, one of the world’s
largest outdoor advertising companies.
Appearing as a personified lawn, this unique cartoon character
can offer a unique perspective that might incite human action. He
can encourage people by saying things in ways that governments,
utilities and even conservation groups cannot.
“I’m fresh off a water cleanse and have never looked better,
thanks to that H2O diet Governor Brown put me on,” Lawn Dude said
upon his return in 2015. “I know people thought I might be all
dried up, but I’m back and ready to kick some grass.”
In addition to appearing on billboards the past two summers,
Lawn Dude continues to provide comments on his Twitter feed, and I would not
be surprised if he came back next year.
California remains in a serious drought. Gov. Jerry Brown and
the California Water Resources Control Board have imposed a series
of water conservation measures to protect the remaining water
supplies. For specifics, check out this
fact sheet (PDF 507 kb).
Charles Wilson, chairman of the nonregulatory Southern
California Water Committee, said the donation of billboards by
Clear Channel has made it possible to reach many people with a
reminder about water conservation.
“The Lawn Dude campaign has been a valuable way for the Southern
California Water Committee to grab the public’s attention when it
comes to outdoor water conservation, going beyond the limitations
typically placed on what public agencies and water districts can
say,” Wilson noted in a
One aspect of the campaign has been to encourage Californians to
remove their lawns. That’s when Lawn Dude got a new hairdo
featuring succulent plants, and he discussed it on Twitter:
“It’s time to take it all off, California!”
“Lawn Dude stripped nude. Now won’t you take it off?”
“Keeping me thirsty isn’t enough. I need a new look and I’m
loving the succulent style.”
“My trainer has been kicking my grass. It’s a good thing I lost
that water weight.”
The following video from KCAL-TV in Los Angeles is a news story
posted last year when the Lawn Dude campaign was launched.
Atmospheric scientists with NASA and the University of
Washington chose a doozy of a week on the Olympic Peninsula to
launch their four-month effort to measure precipitation and
calibrate the super-sophisticated Global Precipitation Measurement
The heart of the GPM system is an advanced satellite called the
GPM Core Observatory, designed to measure rainfall and snowfall
from space. If the system can be perfected, meteorologists and
climatologists will have a fantastic tool for measuring
precipitation where no ground-based instruments are located.
To improve the satellite system, ground-based radar and other
equipment were moved to remote areas of the Olympic Peninsula to
take measurements (see video below). Meanwhile, aircraft flying
above, below and inside the clouds were taking their own
The program, called Olympex for Olympic Mountains Experiment, is
impressive. Researchers chose the west side of the Olympics because
that’s where storms arrive from the Pacific Ocean, laying down
between 100 and 180 inches of rainfall each year. Sure, these folks
were looking for rain, but did they really know what they were
On Friday, a Doppler-on-wheels radar system was nearly flooded
when between 4 and 14 inches of rain fell in various portions of
the Quinault Valley, raising Lake Quinault by about six inches per
hour over a period of several hours. For details, check out
science summary for the day, which describes some of the
measurements that were taken.
“We’re not just checking the satellite’s observations, the way
you might double-check a simple distance measurement,” said project
manager Lynn McMurdie in a
news release from the University of Washington.
“We’re checking the connection between what the satellite sees
from space, what’s happening in the middle of the storm system and
what reaches the ground, which is what most people ultimately want
to know,” McMurdle said. “So we’re not just improving the
satellite’s performance — we’re learning how storm systems
Education” website explains how weather systems from the
Pacific Ocean are experienced on land and how Olympex will sort
“Large weather systems arrive in the Pacific Northwest from the
ocean, and not all parts of the system are equal. The leading edge,
called the pre-frontal sector, tends to be warmer and have steady
rainfall. Next, the frontal sector marks the transition from the
warmer air to the colder air and processes that produce rainfall
are often most intense in this region. Finally the post-frontal
sector, characterized by colder temperatures, will often bring
showery rain and snow, and can produce large snowfall accumulations
at higher elevations.
“The (Olympex) field campaign will be looking inside these storm
clouds with ground radar and aircraft instruments to determine the
accuracy of the GPM satellite constellation in detecting the unique
precipitation characteristics in these different storm sectors.
“One of the aircraft will be flying through the clouds to make
detailed measurements of raindrops, ice particles, and snowflakes
as they are falling to Earth’s surface. Combined with data from the
ground radars and the total amounts caught by the rain gauges and
other instruments on the ground, scientists will be able to improve
the computer models of precipitating clouds – the same types of
computer models used to forecast the weather and project future
If you’d like to learn more about Olympex, check out these
Despite concerns about drought in much of Washington state,
Kitsap County came through the water year (ending Sept. 30) with
precipitation just about normal.
As you can see from the graphs on this page, precipitation in
2015 (blue line) fairly well tracked the average (pink line). The
previous water year (orange line) was more concerning, although
both 2014 and 2015 water years ended in fairly decent shape.
Areas in North Kitsap ended the year somewhat above average. In
Hansville, the annual total was 34.3 inches, compared to an average
of 30.2 inches. In Central and South Kitsap, many areas were
slightly below normal. In Holly, the annual rainfall was 69.4
inches, compared to an average of 76.6 inches.
The Kitsap Peninsula largely relies on groundwater for its water
supplies, and we have gotten enough rains to keep the aquifers in
fairly decent shape, according to Mark Morgan of Kitsap Public
“Aquifers experienced their typical summer drawdown, driven more
by demand than by drought, but (it was) nothing exceptional,” Mark
said in a summary of the water year.
Concerns about drought in other parts of the state were largely
based on a lack of snowpack coming out of last winter.
Meanwhile, flows in many streams hit low-flow conditions a month
earlier than normal this past summer, but some maintained their
typical flow, Mark said. Adequate streamflows are critical for coho
salmon, which spend a year in freshwater, as well as for year-round
residents, such as trout.
The forecast for the winter is based on strong El Nino
conditions (see map below), which means that sea surface
temperatures off the coast of South America will be significantly
higher than usual — up to 3.4 degrees F (2 degrees C). Above-normal
temperatures are expected across the western U.S. as well as the
northern tier states and Eastern Seaboard, with the greatest chance
of above-normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest.
Below-average temperatures are expected in New Mexico and West
Texas. For details, see the prediction maps at the bottom of this
page or check out NOAA’s
Climate Prediction Center.
While much of the country will benefit from greater rainfall,
below normal precipitation is expected for the Northwest and areas
in the Eastern Great Lakes, New York and northern New England.
Climatologists predict with 95 percent certainty that the El
Nino will continue through the winter in the Northern Hemisphere
before gradually weakening in the spring.
The historic town of Port Gamble is about to get a new-fangled
sewage-treatment plant, one that will allow highly treated effluent
to recharge the groundwater in North Kitsap.
The old treatment plant discharges its effluent into Hood Canal,
causing the closure of about 90 acres of shellfish beds. After the
new plant is in operation, those shellfish beds are likely to be
reopened, officials say.
The new facility will be built and operated by Kitsap Public Utility
District, which owns and manages small water systems throughout
the county. The Port Gamble plant will be the first wastewater
operation to be managed by the KPUD, which views the project as a
step toward reclaiming more of Kitsap County’s wastewater by
putting it to beneficial use, said manager Bob Hunter.
The PUD already manages the Port Gamble water system, which will
undergo a future renovation, he said. Dealing with the community’s
sewage is the next logical step.
“Nobody can do reclaimed water without the sewage-treatment part
of the equation,” Bob told me, “and it seems potentially more
efficient to have one entity do it.”
In a related development, the district is expected to ask Kitsap
County voters for authority to own the plant as well as operate it.
Under its current authority, the district can own water utilities
but not sewer utilities.
A $2-million state grant to eliminate the discharge of sewage
into Hood Canal requires that a public entity own the sewer system.
To comply with that requirement, Mason County PUD 1 will take over
ownership until Kitsap PUD obtains the needed authority, Bob
The KPUD commissioners are expected to decide on Tuesday whether
to place a measure on November’s ballot. Hunter said he doesn’t
expect opposition, but he hopes to address any concerns people may
have. The commissioners meet at 9:30 a.m. in their Poulsbo
The new treatment plant will be a membrane bioreactor, a type of
filtering system capable of producing effluent close to the quality
of drinking water. The plant, which comes assembled, will treat up
to 100,000 gallons of sewage per day. That’s enough capacity to
serve the existing homes in Port Gamble. And if the town’s
redevelopment is approved
(Kitsap Sun, Jan. 24, 2013), as proposed by owner Pope
Resources, the plant could serve up to 350 homes — provided the old
sewer pipes are replaced to reduce the amount of stormwater that
The plant will be located on 1.3 acres near Carver Drive, south
of Highway 104. Effluent will be pumped to a new drainfield at the
top of a nearby hill. Eventually, water from the plant could be
used to irrigate forestland or else lawns and ballfields in the
Construction is expected to get underway soon, with the system
operational by May of next year. The entire project, including the
treatment plant, pumping system, pipes, drainfield and site work,
is expected to cost $5 million with most of the cost paid by Pope
The KPUD has no plans to operate other sewer systems at this
time, Hunter said, but the district hopes to be in a position to
respond to community needs, as it as done with failing water
systems. Small sewage-treatment plants could be feasible where a
lot of septic systems are failing, he noted, but state law
precludes the use of sewers in rural areas except during a health
emergency. Even then, the systems must serve only existing needs,
not future growth, he noted.
Without snowpack, Kitsap Peninsula is entirely dependent on the
amount of rain that falls on the peninsula. With limited storage,
future water supplies can be bolstered by recharging the
groundwater with high-quality sewage effluent or by using effluent
to replace drinking water used for irrigation and industrial
The Central Kitsap Wastewater Treatment Plant, which produces an
average 3.2 million gallons of water each day, is undergoing a
major upgrade to produce water that can be used for a variety of
uses in nearby Silverdale. In preparation, Silverdale Water
District has been installing a new piping network to bring the
reclaimed water into the community.
“We have been talking for a long time about getting water into
the ground instead of dumping it into Puget Sound or Hood Canal,”
said Bob Hunter. “With this project in Port Gamble, we can learn
and be prepared when other situations come along.”
UPDATE: April 24, 2015
Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of
Washington, says in his
blog that it is too early to be predicting severe drought in
Western Washington this summer because of possible late-spring
“I believe the media and some local politicians have gotten a
bit too worried about our ‘drought.’ We have NOT had a
precipitation drought at all….we are in a snow drought due to warm
temperatures. The situation is unique and I suspect we will weather
this summer far better than expected.”
The word seems to be getting around about the record-low
snowpack in the mountains, which could create a shortage of
drinking water and even lead to problems for salmon swimming
upstream. Read about Gov. Jay Inslee’s expanded drought emergency, issued
today, as well as the last
update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Kitsap Peninsula and the islands of Puget Sound are in their own
worlds, fairly insulated from what is happening in the higher
elevations. In these lower elevations, the key to water supplies is
rainfall, not snow, and the outlook for the year is normal so
As you can see from the charts on this page (click to enlarge),
this year’s rainfall has been tracking closely the long-term
average. If the rains are light and steady, much of the water will
soak into the ground and recharge the aquifers where most area
residents get their water. The aquifer levels tend to rise and fall
over multiple years, depending on the rainfall.
Casad Dam on the Union River, which supplies a majority of
Bremerton’s water, filled in January, well ahead of schedule, said
Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager for the city. The dam is
scheduled for a normal drawdown, and Kathleen said she does not
expect any water shortage.
“We filled the reservoir fairly early this year,” she said. “We
are looking pretty good for the summer.”
October, the first month of the water year, was unusually wet,
Kathleen said. December precipitation also was high. The other
months were fairly normal for precipitation.
Precipitation in the Puget Sound region is expected to be below
average for June, July and August, according to models by the
NOAA’s Climate Prediction
Center. Interestingly, large portions of the Central and
Southwest U.S., Alaska and Florida can expect above-average
precipitation. See U.S. map.
Streams on the Kitsap Peninsula are fed by surface water flows
and shallow aquifers. At the moment, most of the streamflows are
near their historical average. That’s not the case for the larger
rivers in the Northwest, which rush out of the mountains. Most are
well below their normal flows, as shown by the map with the
Low streamflows usually mean higher temperatures and stress for
salmon. Low flows also can affect fish passage in some stretches of
the rivers while also reducing spawning areas.
While things look fairly good on the Kitsap Peninsula now,
things can change quickly. We have different vulnerabilities than
elsewhere. Climate-change models predict that rains will grow more
intense in the future without changing annual precipitation very
much. That means more of the water will run off the land and less
will soak in, potentially reducing aquifer levels over time.
Managing those underground water supplies will become more and more
Jimmy Fallon and Bill Gates together make an interesting
combination. One is about finding new ways to solve serious world
problems, while the other is looking for new ways to surprise and
Bill gates recently challenged Jimmy Fallon to the “ultimate
taste test” involving two glasses of water. Jimmy would try to tell
the difference between bottled water and sewage effluent from an
innovative treatment plant built in Sedro Woolley, south of
Bellingham. As you’ll see from the video, there was a bit of
In his blog,
“Gates Notes,” Bill Gates describes the Omniprocessor, designed
by Janicki Bioenergy of Washington state. A video on that page
(shown here) demonstrates how the processor works, with an ending
in which Gates drinks water that had been in the form of human
feces just minutes before.
Gates makes the most of this humorous but deadly serious issue,
knowing that one of the greatest health threats in the developing
world is contaminated drinking water — and that a machine could
help solve the problem.
The Omniprocessor burns dried human waste as fuel to dry more
waste as it comes into the plant, providing an endless supply of
fuel that can be burned at a very high temperature, thus
controlling air emissions. The drying process produces steam, which
can run a generator for electricity. The water vapor is cooled and
goes through a final filter to produce clean drinking water.
I’ve read many articles written about the Omniprocessor over the
past month, but Mark Stayton of the
Skagit Valley Herald wrote the most informative piece I’ve
A working prototype is scheduled to be fabricated this spring in
Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, and go into use soon after. Graphics
and photos are available on the Omniprocessor home
I’ll be interested to see how this entire operation works in
practice. Not much is said about getting the waste to the machine.
Apparently, some locations have trucks that pump out latrines and
then dump the untreated waste someplace else, risking contamination
to groundwater or surface water. Transportation of the waste/fuel
might be less of an issue in cities with inadequate
sewage-treatment plants, but I don’t know how efficient trucks
would be in rural areas, where roads are often a problem.
Anyway, I will try to keep you informed about the Omniprocessor
and similar technology in the months to come.
Kingston’s sewage treatment plant could provide irrigation water
for the nearby White Horse Golf Course and possibly other uses
under a plan now in development.
Kitsap County commissioners recently signed a $325,000
“predesign” contract with Brown and Caldwell engineers. The firm
was hired to answer a host of questions about the feasibility of
producing high-quality effluent at the plant and then putting the
clean water to good use.
“We’re just starting to look at the whole project,” said Barbara
Zaroff of Kitsap County’s Wastewater Division. “We just had our
kickoff meeting two weeks ago, and now Brown and Caldwell will be
going out to collect data.”
I peppered Barbara with questions that she could not answer at
this point, because the detail work is yet to be done. But we know
from a previous study by
Golder Associates (PDF 18.2 mb) that producing high-quality
effluent in Kingston is more than a random thought.
Golder found benefits from using the water for supplementing
flows in nearby Grover’s Creek while recharging much-needed
groundwater in that area of the county. The Suquamish Tribe, which
owns White Horse Golf Course, has expressed interest in acquiring
the water if various issues can be resolved.
The Kingston treatment plant, completed in 2005, produces an
average of 150,000 gallons of effluent per day, currently
discharged into Appletree Cove. As population grows, the plant can
be expanded to about 300,000 gallons per day.
It appears it would be cost-effective to treat the water to
tertiary standards with sand filters, although other technologies
will be explored. A pond could be built on or near the golf course,
which would store the water for irrigation and allow infiltration
into the ground. The available water should provide the needs of
the course with plenty of water left over.
Discharging into a wetland that feeds into Grover’s Creek is
another idea, along with providing irrigation at the county’s North
Kitsap Heritage Park. Unused water might still be discharged into
Puget Sound, particularly in winter months when irrigation water is
One question that always arises with reclaimed water is what
happens to trace amounts of chemicals that pass through the
treatment process, such as pharmaceutical drugs that mimic
hormones. We know from studies that some of these chemicals can
affect the growth, development and metabolism of fish in some
An analysis by
Golder Associates (PDF 18.2 mb) concluded that future treatment
processes in the Kingston plant would remove between 80 and 97
percent of endocrine disrupting compounds coming into the plant.
Environmental conditions where reclaimed water is discharged would
degrade the chemicals further, so the overall risk would be low for
salmon and other fish, according to the report.
The new study is expected to look further into the risks.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Ecology is continuing to work on
reclaimed-water rule that could improve permitting and
monitoring by producers of reclaimed water.
The Kingston project would be similar to what is happening at
the Central Kitsap Wastewater Treatment Plant near Brownsville,
where construction is adding sand filters as part of an overall
upgrade to the plant.
The nearby Silverdale Water District has installed about 15,000
feet of “purple pipe” for reclaimed water on the major arterials of
Silverdale, including Silverdale Way. The project is part of the
water district’s major pipe-replacement project. Another 2,000 feet
will be added as part of the Bucklin Hill Bridge project, General
Manager Morgan Johnson told me.
Much of the new commercial construction in Silverdale is being
designed to use reclaimed water for irrigation, and some buildings
are being plumbed to use reclaimed water for flushing toilets and
other secondary uses. Ballfields in the area could get some of the
A public-outreach program is being planned to educate the public
about reclaimed water and to answer questions that people may have.
Under the current schedule, the reclaimed-water valve would be
turned on in 2020, but that date may be pushed back, Morgan
In Kingston, it will take about a year to put the information
together and identify a preferred alternative, Barbara told me.
Final engineering and design will follow under a new contract if
things go as expected.
The current contract will examine pipeline routes to convey the
water to the potential users. Costs for building and operating the
system will be explored.
Yet to be determined is how costs and benefits of the reclaimed
water will be shared between the county, which owns the treatment
facilities, and those who will use the water. That goes for both
Kingston and Central Kitsap.
Many golf courses across the country — especially in the arid
Southwest — are using reclaimed water for irrigation. In a few
places where water is in extremely short supply, water systems have
begun adding the clean effluent straight into their drinking water.
Check out reporter Emily Schmall’s story for
the Associated Press.
While water is still somewhat plentiful in the Puget Sound area,
it only makes sense to find uses for freshwater that would
otherwise be dumped into salty Puget Sound.