Do you know where your drinking water comes from? If you live within the city limits or urban growth area, your water is pumped from the Forks Prairie Aquifer located approximately 100 feet below ground. It can take as long as two or three weeks for rain and surface water to reach our aquifer and the City’s five underground wells. This explains why we face water shortages during, and for some time after, a prolonged dry period. In fact, we have experienced two drought emergencies in the past five years. In response to this, City Planner Rod Fleck has successfully applied for two Washington State Department of Ecology grants to undertake drought relief measures.
The first grant for $350,000 involves development of the existing well located at the former site of Forks Sand and Gravel for incorporation into the City’s municipal water system. This project includes testing, design, permitting, and development of a new wellhouse and pump. It is tentatively scheduled for completion at the end of February, 2020. The City purchased the 15-acre property in October of 2017. The long-range goal for the property is the development of a stormwater filtration facility with a pond and lighted walking trails that the community could enjoy.
The second grant for $22,000 will be used to purchase equipment for transporting potable water to small community water systems facing water emergencies caused by low-water events, well failures, droughts, well contamination, and so on. The sale of bulk water in such emergencies, however, would occur only after the City’s own primary water needs and supply had been evaluated, prioritized, and assured. The City has ordered five 550-gallon potable water tanks, a 1,000-gallon water trailer, and a pump, all of which will be paid for by this grant.
The City is taking positive steps to increase the amount of water available to us and nearby small communities by adding another well to the municipal water system and developing a means of transporting bulk water. It is also taking steps to conserve the precious water we have. You may have noticed the water barrels attached to downspouts at City Hall. They catch rainwater from the roof, which is then used to water the flower baskets you see hanging on Forks Avenue in the summer. The City has also entered into an interlocal agreement with the Quillayute Valley Parks and Recreation District and the Clallam Conservation District to establish a rainwater harvesting demonstration, utilizing a 500-gallon cistern to be located at the Forks Athletic & Aquatic Club. Rainwater captured with that cistern will be used to water flower baskets, prepare the baseball fields, etc.
What steps might you take to conserve water?