City, park officials meet Thursday on sediment, water supply
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By PAUL GOTTLIEB
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Staff members with the city and Olympic National Park are expected to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss improving National Park Service communication with the city on problems filtering sediment from the Elwha River.
Sediment unleashed by dam removal is clogging the Elwha Water Facilities treatment plant and potentially could affect the city's Ranney Well, which supplies potable water via the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant.
The intent is “to get some clarification on outstanding issues,” city Public Works Director Glenn Cutler said Tuesday.
“One is to make sure the city is involved in fixes and schedules associated with the Elwha Water Facilities and also to express our concern about the Ranney Well, as we did [Monday] during our tour.”
Water from the well remains safe, Cutler said.
The Elwha Water Facilities treatment plant also can supply filtered water to the Port Angeles Treatment Plant, but it wasn't as of Tuesday, Cutler said.
The water it is now treating has too much sediment for the Port Angeles plant to treat to a level that it can be used for municipal drinking water, Cutler said.
But that also means the city's Ranney Well is being used more than officials had planned.
The Elwha facility also is supposed to provide — but is not — water to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife salmon-rearing channel and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's fish hatchery, Cutler said.
It is providing water to Nippon Paper Industries USA.
City Manager Dan McKeen sent a letter in mid-March to Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum laying out the city's concerns about the Elwha Water Facilities plant becoming clogged with sediment and not being able to supply enough water to the four downstream facilities.
Because the city's Ranney Well is being used more than officials had planned, it could shorten the life of the well, McKeen said in his letter.
City and park officials toured the area near the well Monday morning but did not tour the water facilities treatment plant.
The plant has been compromised by the intrusion of sediment — and failure of filtering screens — to block the sediment-release resulting from the completed tear-down of Elwha Dam and unfinished dismantling of Glines Canyon Dam, which is part of the $325 million Elwha River Restoration Project.
Due to incorrect information provided to the Peninsula Daily News, it was erroneously reported Tuesday that the follow-up meeting was scheduled for today.
The 2 p.m. meeting Thursday is not open to the public.
The park has denied the PDN access to the treatment plant, which was built by the National Park Service.
Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Tuesday it is the policy of Veolia Water North America, which operates the facility under a Park Service contract, that media not be allowed in the plant while it is in operation.
It is on city land and is intended to eventually be turned over to the city, Cutler has said.
Cutler said he has access to the plant with permission.
Cutler said the city has not been kept apprised of different aspects of the Park Service's efforts to address sediment intrusion problems at the facility.
An estimated 34 million cubic yards of sediment was behind the 108-foot Elwha Dam and 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam, with 6 million cubic yards already released — the anticipated amount at this point, park officials have said.
Work has been halted since October on tearing down the remaining 60 feet of Glines Canyon Dam while Park Service officials figure out what to do about the inability of the $79 million treatment plant — the priciest single component of the restoration project — to handle the sediment load.
“I am hoping we will continue to have a good working relationship and that in some of the areas the city was not included, that we will be included in the future and that there is a commitment from the Park Service to do that,” Cutler said.
He said the city was not involved in discussions regarding potential “fixes” to the treatment plant and did not know the scope of the work that would be done when Lakewood-based Macnak Construction was awarded a $1.4 million contract to address the problem.
“Obviously, one set of alterations stopped in the middle, and we don't know where they are going from here,” Cutler said.
Two of six new screens had been installed at the water facilities water-intake area before the screens were taken offline without ever being used, Maynes said.
The other four screens are stored in a 40-foot container at the site.
“As the project was moving along to install them, there was further information learned about other issues, and the decision was made to defer installation until other work can be accomplished,” park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Tuesday.
“Continued installation has been put on hold so other work can be finished.”
Maynes said she has not been fully briefed on those other issues.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: May 01. 2013 11:14PM