Category Archives: Bremerton water

Beat blast: 5 stories you’ve gotta know in Bremerton this week

Here’s your three minute news update for the week in Bremerton. In the video above, you’ll learn:

  1. What Bremerton road will soon get a $5 million makeover?
  2. What park is getting expanded?
  3. Who may be to blame for too much saltwater in the sewers?
  4. The City Council’s change to utility taxes
  5. What brewery opens in Bremerton Friday


This week’s blast was filmed on location at LoveCraft Brewery, 275 Fifth Street, and includes an interview with the owners.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at

5 things you need to know in Bremerton this week

Got three minutes? I’ll get you up to speed on what’s going on in Bremerton, including:

1. When’s this windstorm going away?


2. Who’s mapping all of Kitsap’s waterfalls?

3. How’d a gull trapped on a utility get rescued?

4. What’s the church on Sixth Street up to now?

5. Learn about the passing of a Bremerton car legend.

All that and more at this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at


City putting $2.3 million lid on massive reservoir

Reservoir 4.
Reservoir 4 from above.

It may be the most expensive lid you’ve ever heard of. Concerns over cracks in the plastic cover of an 11 million gallon water reservoir spurred city public works officials to recommend replacing it with an aluminum or steel one.

The cost: $2.3 million.

It’s worth noting that this is a very big lid. Reservoir 4, as it is known, spans 1.25 acres. Only the nearby Union River reservoir, a billion gallons above the Casad Dam, holds more water in the city.

The past two lids on reservoir 4, both plastic ones, have “failed,” according to Bremerton civil engineer Bill Davis. The first cover, installed in 1981, had to be replaced in 2002. The second cover has been degrading for some time, Davis said. The city made the decision to forgo another “soft” cover that could cost around $500,000 and instead get a “hard” cover that should last 50 years, albeit at a higher price.

It may be an expensive fix, but this is drinking water we’re talking about. Exposure to the elements could lead to bacteria growth inside the reservoir, he said. Because the new cover will likely be made of aluminum, it will require columns to support the structure.

The end result is a permanent fix and is good for the utility and its users, Davis said.

“Our water supply will be more secure and it will improve water quality,” he said.

The Bremerton City Council approved a contract to design the project at its Nov. 4 meeting. Construction is slated to begin in June and wrap up in February 2017. The reservoir will have to be fully drained for the work.

How will the city forgo an 11 million gallon reservoir in a city which consumes around six millions every day? They’re still working on that, Davis said, but they’ve done it before on a previous project. It will likely involve using other water sources the city has, including its many wells.

The current work will be funded by the city’s ratepayers. A low-interest loan — one percent if the project is completed within two years — provided by the state’s Department of Health will spread out the cost.

UPDATE: Will it be recycled? 

Pat Watson had asked me whether the old lid could be recycled. So I asked Davis if the city was considering it.

He said the city reached out to Waste Management and found that the polypropylene material could be recycled there.

The contractor awarded to do the project will have the choice as to whether to recycle it, but Davis said the city would “encourage” the idea in its contract. As the project is designed, Davis said they’ll find out what other agencies have been doing with old polypropylene lids.

A "hard" cover lid on a reservoir in Laguna, California.
A “hard” cover lid on a reservoir in Laguna, California.

The towers are for hoses (or ten things I learned about Bremerton in 2014)

Happy new year, Bremerton! Here’s a list of the 10 most interesting things I learned about Bremerton in 2014.


1. Bremerton’s red light camera experiment is sputtering

The first year of Bremerton’s red light cameras brought in almost $850,000 for the city. Since, that amount has basically been in free fall.

In 2015, if history serves, it will barely bring in any revenue for the city at all.

Combine that with inconclusive evidence they do much to promote safety at intersections and a scandal that has embroiled the company to which Bremerton pays $432,000 a year in operational fees, and the cameras may not last much longer. Mayor Patty Lent has signaled she’d get rid of them if they become a cost for the city.

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2. Bremerton’s rate of violent crime is plummeting

I rode with Bremerton Police in every shift possible the first year I worked at the Kitsap Sun. I’d routinely witness drunken fights, domestic assaults and even a Tasering (interesting if sad story, ask me about it sometime).

That was 2005, the year Bremerton held the dubious distinction of being no. 1 in violent crime per capita in the state of Washington.

Yes, Bremerton still has its share of crime. But its violent crime rate is half what it was in 2005 — 11.7 incidents per thousand then to 5.7 in 2013, according to FBI statistics. That’s a pretty remarkable drop. There’s lots of reasons why — rising homeownership, renewed parks and focused policing to name a few — which you can learn about here.

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3. Those tires won’t remove themselves

Spare a tire? The police shooting range west of Gorst, within Bremerton’s watershed property, has plenty of them. In fact, the city has spent in excess of $12,000 removing them about 8,500 of them, and more may be spent.

The police department thought they might need them for training but at a certain point, Public Works Director Chal Martin said they had to go. How they got there was actually even investigated by a separate police agency. Ultimately, no wrongdoing was assigned.

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4. It’s the water

Meanwhile in the Bremerton watershed, another little brouhaha cascaded from the headwaters of the Union River. The city built a dam in the 1950s and has used the water above it as the bulk of the drinking water for around 1/3 of Kitsap County’s residents.

Because the lake is remote — like 3,000 acres around it remote — the state doesn’t require Bremerton to filter its water supply (though the water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet light).

City officials are adamant the land around it stay preserved. The city went so far as to release photos this year of trespassers — poachers, hikers and bikers — using the area.

Some wonder if the city couldn’t lighten up a bit, and a countywide trail is being contemplated for the total 8,000 acre parcel the city owns, where the city also has a golf course and the police shooting range (and by the way, anyone need some extra tires?).

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5. The towers were for the hoses

Why, when you see old fire stations do they have towers that rise into the sky from their basic structures?


Turns out fire hoses used to be made of cotton, which needed to be hung up to dry after fighting a fire. If they weren’t dried properly, they’d mold. Today’s hoses are synthetic.

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6. There’s redwoods in them there sewer towers

Speaking of towers — a somewhat routine at the city’s sewer treatment plant contains an interesting tidbit.

Some giant filters made of redwood trees are being retired out. While the new material is plastic , the redwoods, from the 1980s, have broken down but may have a second life as beauty bark (Or bark. Or mulch. Or whatever term you like).

Public works officials say the city will use it around its properties, maybe even parks, if its environmentally safe to do so.

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7.  Bye bye Maple Leaf, may your sign be immortal

Yes, we said goodbye to the Maple Leaf Tavern in 2014. The place was unrivaled in its around 77 years tending bar in Kitsap County. But the now fabled Lower Wheaton Way watering hole closed due to nonpayment of $25,000 in taxes, in 2010. And city engineers saw it as a chance to clear some needed room for the Lower Wheaton Way project earlier this year, tearing it down for $18,000.

Breakfast at Sally’s author Richard LeMieux called its slanted floor — you have to admit it had been worn down in recent years — the feel of “one of those oblique fun houses with a moving floor” that actually got more stable as you drank.

Rest in peace, Maple Leaf.

I get asked a lot about if its storied sign was preserved. The answer: yes. It is in the capable hands of the Kitsap Historical Society.

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8. The ‘Mo-Sai’ Bank Building has the state’s most complex Carillon system

A longtime curiosity of mine was satisfied when I was learning about the bells on the roof of the Chase Bank building at Fifth and Pacific this year. That odd facade on the building giving it the look of a vertical beach? It’s called Mo-Sai, and the architects used this rock peppering as a way to reflect the Northwest’s rugged terrain. Huh.

It certainly is unique. But up on its roof are the speakers that play Bremerton’s Carillon system. Probably the most complete in the Pacific Northwest. Yep, they’re real bells. And they played on a snowy Christmas Eve, 1971, for the first time.

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9. So that all may play

When all was said and done, around $500,000 and countless volunteer hours had made Kitsap County’s first all-accessible playground possible.

The playground, inside Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park, is almost always packed when the weather’s nice. Hard to believe how quickly it came along — a testament to what the community can do when it comes together.

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10. Mudslides in Schley Canyon

Fish passable? What about a mudslide? The state views Schley Canyon, that land cavity that cuts Manette from the rest of East Bremerton (or does it? The boundaries, to be fair, are unclear) as one fish could head up, or fish passable. The city says the little crevasse’s just a drainage and it doesn’t need to pay millions of dollars to replace the 1927 culvert over it at Lower Wheaton Way.

But the canyon has had a slide once when rains get too heavy. A geologist told me the canyon’s probably not a huge slide hazard. But it’s something Mayor Patty Lent said recently she’d like to further examine to be sure.

Honorable mentions:

  • *Many are just convinced the apartments at 704 Chester Avenue are haunted. Even the skeptics have to agree the building does have a long, and sometimes spooky history. It served as the site of Harrison’s first hospital and was later converted into apartments. Bremerton native and Washington State Legislator Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s low-income housing nonprofit improved the complex in the early 2000s, but residents there still say there’s still strange noises at odd hours.
  • *No new homes — or any structures — can be built out over the waters of Puget Sound. But the homes that remain on the water near the Bremerton Boardwalk enjoy a “grandfathered” and can stay for as long as they’d like as long as they’re maintained.

Are there any I missed you’d like to add?

Algae bloom causes ‘metallic’ taste in Bremerton’s water supply 

This is your water supply, Bremerton.
This is your water supply, Bremerton.

Around the middle part of last month, did you notice a “metallic” taste in your tap water

I did. I remember finding it a bit odd but didn’t really give it much thought. And it went away after only a couple days.

Turns out there was a wider, if harmless, phenomenon at work. An algae bloom formed in the city’s surface water supply at the headwaters of the Union River, prompting public works crews to shut the supply off and use city wells to quench the thirst of residents here.

The good news: the algae bloom was harmless and, other than slightly impacting the taste, the quality wasn’t affected, according to the Kathleen Cahall, the city’s water resources manager.

“The water quality could not have been better,” she said.

But how did it happen? Cahall said that unusually warm days in May, combined with an unusually full reservoir — spring rain’s been at record levels — caused the algae bloom. Cahall and other water quality staff found Seattle and New York City had experienced similar blooms, and that they too were harmless.

Still, “It was very unusual. We’ve never had this happen before,” said Cahall, who’s been with the city for more than two decades.

About 10 customers called public works May 15 and 16 to report the funny taste. Crews shut off the surface water supply and used the time to perform some maintenance as well. The surface water started up again May 29.

To prevent it from happening again, Cahall said the city will keep the reservoir from getting as full as it did this spring during record rainfall. But she said that small algae blooms can and will happen from time to time.

Bremerton’s water supply, which keeps about six million gallons a day through its pipes, is one of the few in the country that predominantly comes from an open air water source. Casad Dam, constructed in the 1950s, is deep within the city’s watershed property, which cannot be accessed by the public.

Before it gets to your tap, the city’s water is run through ultraviolet light to kill any parasites, chlorine to clean it and is also tested to ensure it is safe.

Should you ever wonder if you’re water’s got a weird taste to it, don’t hesitate to call the public works’ information line at (360) 473-5920.

“We depend on people to call us,” Cahall said.

Casad Dam.
Casad Dam.