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Port Angeles city manager says city water not yet in jeopardy from Elwha sediment

May 7th, 2013 - 6:21am

(Port Angeles) -- The city manager of Port Angeles says the city's water supply is fine right now.

But Dan McKeen says there are concerns sediment level in the Elwha River could change that in the future. The city gets its water from the Elwha.

In an interview with Newsradio KONP, McKeen says the city is currently getting enough water that meets state Health Department standards.

But he says it may be a problem in the future.

Sediment has overrun some of the new water treatment facilities at the river. Those facilities were built to process water more thoroughly as sediment filled the river when the dams came out.

McKeen says with the facilities not working properly, the city now must pull water from its Ranney Well along a side channel of the river. It's the same method the city took water before the new water plants were constructed.

But McKeen says there's no guarantee the sediment won't also effect that well later.

"Water has not been an issue in terms of quality. The issue is: Because we're using the Ranney collector, there is the possibility or likelihood we could be pumping some of these fines down and occluding what would normally, naturally happen and degrade the life of that facility," said McKeen.

City and park service officials met last week. No solutions have emerged, but McKeen says he's satisfied the park service has heard the city's concerns.

"We're concerned about using the Ranney Well. We'd like to see a solution where the facility that was designed to provide water for the city's water treatment plant be fixed to provide the quality and quantity of water we need," said McKeen.

The legislation that authorized removal of the Elwha dams included assurances the city's water supply would be protected.

Olympic National Park officials say they continue to analyze the sediment issue and are trying to come up with a solution. In the meantime, dam removal on the river has been halted.

Park officials will brief the city council on the issue tonight.

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