Sequim grant expands reclaimed water use

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Reclaimed water in Sequim got an extra push with the recent completion of the city's Water Reclamation Facility expansion.

City officials led a ribbon cutting on the afternoon of Sept. 14 at the facility.

Staff and contractors have worked about four years on

design and implementation for the $11 million project that increases the facility's water reuse processing from 800,000 gallons per day to 1,670,000 gallons.

Anything in the city limits that comes down the sink, shower, toilet or drain ends up at the facility and is processed into reusable water.

Reused water is used in city park irrigation, roadside landscaping, construction and augmenting Bell Creek.

City staff said the expansion would help streams' and rivers' water levels and protect shellfish beds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca by releasing less effluent or discharge.

"This current expansion is the culmination of a forward-looking community and the Sequim City Council," said Paul Haines, public works director.

"The sophistication of the treatment process not only builds on the 3,000 acres of shellfish grounds opened up with the Class A water treatment developed in the 1998 expansion, but also the wide use of the treated water for purposes that reduce demand on the Dungeness River flows needed for habitat.

"The new plant capacity will allow Sequim to grow with the certainty of preserving water resources and to work with other sewer agencies on regional needs."

Tapping the ground

The city's next project is using a $1.1 million grant to find a new recharging location for reclaimed water at either the existing Water Reuse Demonstration Park or city shop site.

Haines said recharge ponds reintroduce highly treated water into the groundwater like the Dungeness River and beneficial aquifers.

The pond could help introduce water into the local aquifers year-round.

Once a site is chosen, construction of the pond is tentatively set for early 2011.

So far the city has about four miles of piping running from the Water Reclamation Facility on Schmuck Road to Carrie Blake Park and the city's shop.

Three businesses utilize reused water for landscaping.

The service is not available to residences due to the location and high cost of reused water pipes.

Planning for future pipe routes and outreaching to potential users is a part of the city's long-term plan.

Pete Tjemsland, Sequim utilities manager, said piping expansion depends on grant funding availability, he said.

"The hope is to have it readily available for everyday uses," Tjemsland said.

"Our hope is to turn it into an income," Haines said.

Progressive plant

Sequim's wastewater facility was one of five in Washington to pioneer the water reuse movement, which led to more than 30 statewide.

The city upgraded in 1998 to a Class A facility.

Reused water goes through several levels of disinfection that ends with ultraviolet lights that prevent parasites and diseases from reproducing.

Al Chrisman, water reclamation facility chief operator, said reuse water's use is vast and can be used for anything except drinking and swimming.

"We're taking a polluted product and turning it into an ecologically friendly product," Chrisman said.

He believes despite the intense process and treatment, questions remain.

"People just don't think about where their water goes," Chrisman said.

He hopes people are assured by the water's safety because the facility is monitored by two federal departments and the state and it's the first lab in Washington to become accredited.

Contact Sequim Public Works at 683-4908 with questions on water reclamation and reclaimed water eligibility.

Facts on Sequim's Water Reclamation Facility

• Puts 80 gallons a minute into Bell Creek

• Four operators

• Sits on 10 acres

• First water reclamation facility to be accredited (1990)

• Processes city's wastewater that comes down the sink, shower and toilet

Water costs for a Sequim commercial property

Potable, drinking water on a 3/4-inch pipe

• $20.95 base fee per month

• Up to 800 cubic feet costs $0.00697 per cubic foot

• Over 800 cubic feet costs $0.02061

Reuse water, 3/4-inch pipe

• $4.55 base fee per month

• Up to 5,000 cubic feet costs $0.0042849 per cubic foot

• 5,000-20,000 cubic feet usage costs $0.0032085 per cubic foot

• Note a cubic foot is about 7.45 gallons of water

Reach Matthew Nash at

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