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Natural Resources

City to try new water service

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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The Shelton city commissioners reviewed an ordinance Monday that would establish a new water service in the city - reclaimed water.

Since the completion of its satellite water reclamation plant last year, a relatively new addition to the city's wastewater treatment system, the city of Shelton has been producing "Class A" reclaimed water. The water is suitable for most uses, but it is not drinkable.

"It is a product that has beneficial use in the northwest region of the city of Shelton," said city regional project manager Dennis McDonald.

According to the briefing McDonald gave to the commissioners, the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Corrections entered into a partnership with the city to build the water reclamation plant in order to help conserve water for their facilities.

"The state partners have signed Utility Service Agreements that takes consideration of their contribution towards building the Satellite Plant to calculate their rates for services," the brief states.

Neither partner has connected to the reclaimed water yet, McDonald said.

"This is for additional connectors, people who are interested in using reclaimed water other than those two state agencies that provided the funding for building those facilities," McDonald said. "So this is defining reclaimed water as a service available and also talking about it and trying to encourage connections and the use of this new product."

City staff recommended to the commission that users should pay a rate for the reclaimed water that is 50 percent of the city's commercial water rate.

Because the class A reclaimed water is not potable, or drinkable, it has to run through separate pipes from the facility's drinking water. These pipes are colored purple to avoid confusion.

The commissioners stressed that the need to install the special "purple pipes," made the addition of reclaimed water more practical for new construction projects or for larger county facilities like the state patrol or corrections centers.

"It's not something that somebody with an existing house would be able to do without," commissioner Dawn Pannell said. "It would be a mistake I think to let the average homeowner think that this is something that's going to be easily done."

Aside from installing special "purple pipes," customers who sign up for reclaimed water also need to be city sewer customers, McDonald said. The briefing states that, "Increasing the number of users of reclaimed water requires a commensurate increase in wastewater."

To chuckles from public in attendance on Monday's meeting, McDonald elaborated.

"One requirement though of customers is that they also be connected to sewer because we need more people to make sure that there is enough product generated," he said. "I think everybody knows what I'm talking about."

The water is not safe to drink, but intended for uses such as irrigation and plumbing for toilets, McDonald said.

"It's highly regulated under the department of health and ecology and one of the key things ... that we need to be aware of is the city needs to shut this off if perchance it goes off spec," he said.

The city plans to hold a public hearing on March 7 to inform possible customers about the benefits of buying the city's reclaimed water.

Copyright 2011 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: February 17, 2011

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