Clallam County to provide PUD with funding

Rescue Plan dollars to aid water quality

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Board of Commissioners is set to approve $775,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Clallam County PUD to put toward a water quality project in Carlsborg.

The approval is expected today following a brief work session discussion on Monday, Commissioner Mark Ozias said in an email.

“The discussion centered around how this ARPA allocation really ‘checks the boxes’ with regard to how ARPA dollars were intended to be used,” Ozias said. “For treatment, transmission and distribution, sourcing and storage of drinking water, as well as for facilitating the creation of new housing units.”

The county entered into a memorandum of understanding with Clallam PUD regarding the Carlsborg water supply last September, noting that the two entities have a shared interest in protecting and further developing it to serve Carlsborg’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) and surrounding areas under the PUD’s existing water right, which would secure future water rights and support area growth.

“Clallam County and PUD No. 1 of Clallam County have been collaborating on the development of a new source of supply for the Carlsborg Water System since 2018,” said Bowen Kendrick, water and wastewater systems manager for the PUD. “The new source is aimed at improving water quality and bolstering water rights to support the expansion of the Carlsborg Water System as a regional Group A water system.”

The county and the PUD signed an interlocal agreement last December. The PUD committed to certifying water availability in the UGA and outside the PUD’s current service area up to just more than 93 acres of annual water production under the PUD’s existing water right.

In exchange, the county will give the PUD $775,000 to support the utility district’s upcoming Carlborg water system infrastructure project, which is estimated to cost $9.1 million. The project is set to address current water quality threats affecting one of the local wells.

According to the PUD, the well has been experiencing rising levels of nitrate since 2008, driven by a combination of residential use of septic systems, agricultural activities that include the use of fertilizer, and characteristics found in the soils in Carlsborg.

Left unchecked, the nitrate levels in the next four to six years could exceed the level of maximum contaminants allowed in water by the state Department of Health.

“The Carlsborg Deep Well, also known as the Van Lan Well, was drilled and completed in late 2019 while pump testing and hydrogeological studies continued through 2020,” Kendrick said. “Bringing the new source online will take place in a three-phased approach with Phases 1 and 2 scheduled for completion in 2023 and 2024, respectively.”

Phase 1 will extend the Carlsborg Water System north to the site of the new Van Lan well.

Phase 2 involves permitting the well as a new source of supply with the Department of Health, obtaining a groundwater water right permit from the state Department of Ecology and connecting the new well to the Carlsborg Water System.

“Once the well is online, the PUD and county will work closely with the departments of Health and Ecology to monitor water levels and water quality in the new Van Lan well,” Kendrick said. “Ultimately, the final product will be at least two reliable groundwater sources capable of supporting regional growth in Carlsborg for the 20-year planning horizon and beyond.”

Phase three will be the installation of the storage/blending tank, pump station and related infrastructure, which will allow for the blending and storage of the nitrate-affected well with water from the Van Lan well to provide safe drinking water through the PUD’s water system that serves the Carlsborg UGA.

The treatment technique is approved by the Department of Health and could provide more than 80 years of useful life to the water system.

“The total project will improve access to safe water for people living in and around Carlsborg as well as afford the ability to immediately approve new housing units with PUD water hookups in Carlsborg,” Ozias said. “This allocation, and the broader agreement between Clallam County and the Clallam PUD describing our collective work on expanding access to water in the Carlsborg UGA, represent a significant step forward in the county’s efforts to facilitate the creation of more housing units.”

County Commissioner Mike French lauded the collaboration between the entities.

“I’m very grateful for the collaboration between the county and the PUD at both the elected official and staff level that led to this project, French said. “It looks to already be fruitful, as the PUD announced they already had potential new residential development outside of their previous service area (but within the Carlsborg UGA) interested in connecting. That’s the power of prioritizing and investing in infrastructure, and it’s one of the primary ways local governments can help to address high housing costs in Clallam County.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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