City plan looks to conserve more water, dig wells

Potable water supply should suffice for 10- and 20-year growth estimates in the City of Sequim, according to a proposed city plan.

However, city staff say that to stay proactive, digging more wells from its water sources and using available Dungeness River water may be needed by the 20-year mark.

The 2022 Water System Preliminary Plan for 2023-2032 discusses future capital projects and sets conservation and efficiency goals for the city.

Sequim city councilors approved the preliminary plan Aug. 8 in a 6-0 vote, with William Armacost excused.

The plan is now under review with the state Department of Health for the next several months, according to the city’s resource manager Ann Soule, before being sent back to the city for formal council approval tentatively in December or early 2023.

With conservation efforts in place through the 2014 Water System Plan, city staff estimate residents conserved about 260 million gallons of water, for a total of about 9 percent of total usage.

Distribution system leakage dropped about 4.6 percent the last eight years, too, going from a rate of nearly 14 percent in 2014 to 9.1 percent last year, the 2022 water plan states.

Repairing and replacing water lines saved about 90 million gallons of water, staff estimated.

In the required and updated 2022 water plan, city staff set a conservation goal to reduce the average day demand by about 100,000 gallons and reduce the maximum day demand by about 270,000 gallons.

Soule said they follow most state conservation recommendations and will continue educating residents and coordinating with water management partners in the watershed, i.e., when low flows are expected in the Dungeness River.

With COVID-19 significantly impacting the economy in 2020 and 2021, city councilors opted not to raise utility rates despite staff and a utility rate study’s recommendations to maintain costs.

By not raising rates since 2020, city staff report that utility rates will result in larger increases in the future and/or a need to secure more funding in a shorter time frame.

The city’s 2023 proposed budget recommends a three-year, 3-percent annual increase to both water and sewer rates.

Councilors plan to finalize the budget in November after multiple planned discussions.

Soule said the city can get grants for water capital projects, but not for daily operations as that comes from utility rates.

At the end of 2021, the city had about 2,924 customers with a total 5,133 units — that’s up about 570 customers from the end of 2014.

City customers are currently charged at monthly usage rates at $0.00950 per cubic foot (cf) for the first 600 cf; $0.02777 for 601 to 1,600 cf; and $0.03509 for 1,601 cf or more.

Businesses, public agencies and irrigation customers have the same rate structure up to 1,600 cf but do not pay a higher rate for more usage, city staff report.

Future flow

According to the 2022 water plan, “the existing system components have sufficient capacity to serve projected demands for the 10- and 20-year projections, although (some sources are) nearing their capacity limitations at the 20-year projection.”

This follows a projected 3 percent growth rate in the city and Sequim Urban Growth Area.

Currently, the city’s water system includes four sources with three active for daily supply: the Infiltration Gallery; the Silberhorn Wellfield; Port Williams Wellfield, and the Dungeness River.

City staff said production appears stable the last nine years despite increasing service connections, which may be attributed to more efficient connections and less leaks.

In the 2022 water plans, it states the Silberhorn Wellfield has seen two wells with decreasing capacity, so there are plans to drill a new deeper well.

Soule said the deeper well at the Dr. Standard Little League Park will help balance the pressure in the overall system and improve water quality.

The Port Williams Wellfield has three wells. The city owns water rights for up to five wells and a tentative plan to drill one of those sites.

Water from the Dungeness River is available to the City of Sequim, but staff said an approximate $20 million surface water treatment facility would be required if the water is needed.

Soule said this is included in tentative 2040 plans so that future city staffers can have it on their radar.

The city has three reservoirs totaling about 2.9 million gallons of water, four booster pump stations and about 77 miles of piping, according to the 2022 water plan.

The city continues to reclaim its wastewater at the Water Reclamation Facility with about 33 percent of it used for non-potable water areas, such as parks, and projects in the city in 2021.

City staff have targeted future reclaimed water use for aquifer recharge projects, augmentation of Bell Creek, and more.


Along with many projects planned over 20 years, staff say they continue to budget for about $200,000 per year to replace asbestos cement water mains.

Public works director Sarah VanAusdle said work on replacing the water main line on Seventh Avenue is anticipated to begin construction soon, too.

Soule said staff continue to make contacts with city residents about their underground storage tanks that could impact water supply if there’s a problem, as there are more than 150 septic tanks in the city.

City staff also continues to advocate with local agencies for state funding to finish the Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir.

“Any aquifer recharge is going to help our system overall,” Soule said.

“Any water added to the aquifer system is a benefit to well users and down gradient streams.”

As for priority projects, staff said the Silberhorn deepwell is one, along with improving resilience to an earthquake or other emergency.

VanAusdle said staff plan to update the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) instrumentation that helps control the water and wells in the next few years.

A few other planned projects include replacing the city’s utility meters in the next 10 years ($1 million) and connecting Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-Sequim to city utilities (about $1.3 million) by 2029.

For more about the city’s 2022 Water Preliminary Plan, visit

Photo courtesy of the City of Sequim/ Josh Rees and Timmy Wright recently discuss operations at the City of Sequim’s Water Reclamation Facility. In a proposed 2022 water preliminary plan, city staff look to use more of the water for aquifer recharge projects, augmentation of Bell Creek, and more.

Photo courtesy of the City of Sequim/ Josh Rees and Timmy Wright recently discuss operations at the City of Sequim’s Water Reclamation Facility. In a proposed 2022 water preliminary plan, city staff look to use more of the water for aquifer recharge projects, augmentation of Bell Creek, and more.