Word is trickling out about the City of Sequim’s next water project at the Water Reuse Demonstration Site north of Carrie Blake Park.
With a 75-percent matching grant worth $827,453 from the Department of Ecology set to expire by June 2013, the city is planning to expand its reused water storage by increasing its “fish” pond and creating infiltration basins to prevent reused water from going back into the ocean.
Public Works Director Paul Haines said they’ve begun contacting those potentially impacted by the project, such as organizers of the Albert Haller Playfields, to seek input on design.
“This is the future and we want to turn it into an asset,” Haines said. “It helps the city sustain itself and grow because we’re going to run out of water at some point.”
The problem, Haines said, is that the city has ways to use reused water for a few months of the year but the rest of the year the water is pumped back to the ocean.
Sequim needs to put its excess water either into storage such as the pond at the Water Reuse Site or into aquifers.
The city’s solution is unofficially branded the “leaky pipes project” or LP3, a pilot project where two sets of pipes go under roadways: one for irrigation and the other through pipes that place water into porous sandy and gravelly infiltration basins. This serves as a drain system that goes into trenches.
Rain would not impact the system, Haines said, because pipes would be imbedded into the basins and the city would have complete control of the water’s movement. Currently, the city is its own biggest customer by purchasing reused water for city park irrigation, roadside landscaping, construction and augmenting Bell Creek. Only a few other properties use the water. Haines said the city isn’t looking to buy more land but use rights-of-way.
“We want to be creative with the limited resources we have,” Haines said. “And how do we make that land work with limited funds?”
The city is partnering with contractor Skilling/Connolly of Lacey to develop the pilot project in the water reuse site. The tentative plan would create two infiltration basins totaling about 1.4 acres and triple the current pond to 1.3 acres. Due to budget constraints only a corner of one basin will be completed by June 2013 in the northwest portion of the park by Blake Avenue.
Sequim will match the Department of Ecology grant at 25 percent for just over $275,000 to complete technical design work and some construction by June.
From here the city will budget funds and look for more grants to complete the project.
Haines said the long-term plan is to look at the whole system and find future customers for reused water and identify more spots like the reuse site for more infiltration basins.
“We don’t want to compete with existing irrigation users, but find those not supplied or available to use irrigation water,” Haines said.
The city also is finishing upgrading water storage at the Water Reclamation Facility on Brown Road.
Despite its advantages, reused water is more expensive than irrigation water. 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. The service is not available now to residences due to the location and high cost of reused water pipes.