Port Angeles lifts voluntary water conservation measures with arrival of storms

The weather system also provides the city the opportunity to test out a new $47 million Combined Sewer Overflow system.

PORT ANGELES — With this weekend’s rainstorm looming, city officials last week lifted a monthlong plea for voluntary water conservation — and prepared to test out a new $47 million Combined Sewer Overflow system.

The Clallam County Public Utility District is likely to follow the city’s lead this week on lifting the Stage 2 alert for customers served by city water in the Gales Addition, Monroe and Mount Angeles water districts, PUD spokesman Mike Howe said late Friday afternoon.

“If the city lifted them, we’ll probably do it early next week,” Howe said late Friday afternoon.

“Now, I’m focused on the storms.”

The combination of heavy rains forecast for this weekend and healthy ongoing Elwha River flows — the city gets its water from the Elwha — prompted city officials to remove the Stage 2 alert Thursday, Craig Fulton, public works and utilities director, said Friday.

The alert, set Sept. 13, was followed by the PUD’s Stage 2 declaration Sept. 15.

Fulton said the water flow has been hovering at about 400 cubic feet per second for the past couple of weeks.

It had spiked to 7,000 cfs by Friday, mainly due to runoff.

“Once the rain stops, it drops off very rapidly,” Fulton said.

Flood stage is 15,000 cfs, he added.

Fulton said he will meet with his staff Monday to assess the performance of the city’s new CSO system after its first real test.

The goal: prevent combined rainwater and sewage from overflowing the city system and spewing into the harbor.

Last November, after two heavy rainfalls, the Elwha hit 20,000 cfs — and rainwater and sewage poured into the harbor.

If it hits 20,000 cfs again, a CSO event is not imminent, Fulton said.

“It all depends on how much it actually rains in the Port Angeles area,” he said. “This weekend will be a really good test.”

Last weekend, the Elwha hit 3,000 cfs, which would likely have caused an overflow event without the new system in place but did not, Fulton said.

About two more weeks remain to complete a $15.4 million phase of the CSO project.

It entails replacing Pump Station 4 on Front Street just south of the Valley Creek Estuary, where the two-lane thoroughfare meets Marine Drive.

Fulton said interior equipment in the decommissioned 49-year-old facility across the street from the new pump station is still being removed.

Demolition of the old station could begin toward the end of the week.

Fulton said the demolition, and the completion of landscaping and paving around the new station, should be completed within two weeks.

Intermittent single-lane closures will be imposed until the project is completed, city officials said.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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