The Elwha River flows Wednesday beneath the Elwha River Bridge west of Port Angeles, not far from the city’s intake for drinking water. Low flow rates on the river have prompted Port Angeles to declare a Stage II water shortage advisory. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The Elwha River flows Wednesday beneath the Elwha River Bridge west of Port Angeles, not far from the city’s intake for drinking water. Low flow rates on the river have prompted Port Angeles to declare a Stage II water shortage advisory. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Low flows in Elwha River prompt call for voluntary conservation in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Low flows in the Elwha River have prompted the city of Port Angeles to call for voluntary water conservation under a Stage II water shortage.

Interim Public Works Director Stephen Clark told the City Council on Tuesday that the river had been running below 400 cubic feet per second (cfs) for more than three days, which triggers a Stage II declaration in municipal code.

“We’re going to continue to monitor the situation, but we are going to be putting out information to the public to let them know that all the conservation measures are warranted at this point in time,” Clark told the council.

“If this condition continues, then we will be working with the council to go to the next step, which is to declare a Stage III emergency.”

Port Angeles municipal water comes from the Ranney well groundwater collector near the Elwha River.

The city’s industrial water and a backup supply of potable water comes from a surface water intake at the Elwha Water Facilities.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the Elwha was running at 326 cubic feet per second at the McDonald Bridge gauge west of Port Angeles at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The river had been below 400 cfs since Aug. 24, according to USGS data.

Under a Stage II declaration, the city encourages voluntary reductions in water consumption. Recommended actions include:

• Reduce lawn watering and limit lawn watering to early morning or evenings.

• Reduce car washing.

• Operate dishwashers and washing machines only when full.

• Install low-flow shower heads and faucets that are available for free at City Hall, 321 W. Fifth St.

• Collect a rebate for installing water-efficient toilets, rain barrels, watering timers and soil moisture meters.

Information on water conservation is available through the city at 360-417-4715 or at www.cityofpa.us.

The Stage II declaration was officially made last week, Clark said.

A Stage III water shortage declaration for Port Angeles, which is triggered by five days of below-300-CFS Elwha River flows, would involve volunteer restrictions on outdoor water use.

A Stage IV declaration from five days of below-200-csf river flows would entail mandatory outdoor water restrictions and indoor conservation.

Based on 103 years of data, the average flow for the Elwha River on Wednesday was 595 CFS, USGS officials said.

“These low flows are something that are expected in the hot summer months,” Council member Mike French said at the meeting.

“Conserving water saves us money on our utility bills. It’s better for the fish that live in the Elwha River. It’s better for everyone.”

French added: “These are issues that we are going to see more often moving forward in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Clallam County Public Utility District had a Stage II water alert in effect for the upper Fairview Water System east of Port Angeles, which is primarily supplied by Morse Creek, PUD spokeswoman Nicole Clark said Wednesday.

The PUD issued Stage 4 alert for the 33 customers in the Island View District near Sekiu last month.

The National Weather Service predicted a chance of showers and rain for the North Olympic Peninsula lowlands this weekend.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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