KPUD plans for future growth

HANSVILLE — Kitsap County Public Utility District managers plan to give county water systems the hook up to ensure water supply meets prospected growth demands for the North End.

At the Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council Meeting March 11, Bob Hunter, assistant manager of Kitsap County PUD, said an underground aquifer in Seabeck could be in place to supply water to the North End between 2013 and 2018 but there is no immediate threat of a water shortage.

Hunter said water purveyors are required to plan for a 20-year horizon.

“Kitsap Public Utility District has sufficient (water) source to meet our projected 20-year demand,” Hunter said.

To put growth into perspective, in 1986 when Hunter first started with KPUD there were 3,000 customers. Now there are more than 14,000 customers — 5,000 are in the North Peninsula water system.

According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, the moderate projected population for Kitsap County in 2030 is 314,000 people, equal to a growth rate of 130 percent from the 2005 population census of 240,000 people. Projected growth rates vary, however, from a high increase of 397,000 people (165 percent increase) to a low estimate of 245,000 people (102 percent increase) according to the Office of Financial Management Web site.

Growth creates hazards to aquifer recharge, said Mark Morgan, water quality manager. The more pavement and development over acreage, the less rainfall can penetrate the ground.

“It’s a better strategy to take water from where it is able to recharge than to drill for a new underground water source,” Morgan said, as it would be more costly and less efficient.

Many water systems such as Kingston, Gamblewood and Zimmerman used to be all separate systems. Now these systems are interconnected. Interconnectivity is the key term in the project, Hunter said.

“By having an interconnected system, the project enables us to better manage water supplies to urban growth areas,” Hunter said.

There are three other reasons behind the hook up. First, Hunter said there is reason to believe climate change affects average rainfall, the source of all consumed Kitsap County water. Second, certain aquifers, including one located below Indianola, aren’t fully replenishing their water supply. Lastly, an interconnected water system provides greater flexibility and availability in an emergency.

Once KPUD is pumping water at 1,000 gallons per minute north from the aquifer below Seabeck, the main wells located in the north end will be “shut off” to give aquifers a six-month rest period to see if there is any change.

Rainfall and

climate change

One inch of rain that falls on Kitsap County is equal to 7 billion gallons of water, Hunter said.

On average Kitsap receives about 40 inches of rain per year. It is the source of all drinking water in the county as it ends up as groundwater in the aquifers, Hunter said.

Between 1994 and 1999 rainfall in Kitsap County reached record highs. Rainfall in 2000-2005 set record lows and between 2005 and present rainfall seemed to stabilize, Hunter said.

This rain fluctuation is due to climate change, said Hunter. “Experts have claimed it could result in as much as a 9 percent increase or a 4 percent decrease in rainfall.”

That could increase the current average of 280 billion gallons to as much as 305 billion gallons or present a decrease to 269 billion gallons per year.

Hunter said not all rain is good rain or conducive to aquifer recharge.

If it rains too hard for short periods of time it is more likely to become runoff than absorbed into the ground, he said. “What aquifers like are those long drizzly periods we all hate so much.”

Aquifer Troubles

Because different parts of Kitsap County receive different amounts of rainfall, aquifers replenish at different rates, Hunter said.

“While some decline can probably be attributed to a period of reduced recharge, the majority is probably due to cumulative groundwater withdrawals from the aquifer,” Hunter said in regard to the numerous wells, including privately owned, that pull from the aquifers located in the North End.

Hunter said water managers gain understanding of the relationship between the well and aquifer once the well is “turned off.”

This project will not be the first time KPUD shut off North End wells.

One of Indianola’s wells originally produced 300 gallons per minute back when it was first drilled in 1984 but only produces half of that today — 150 gallons per minute.

Hunter said this is due to the wells age and plugging. “Over time, the fine-grained sediments in the water bearing zone (aquifer) are pulled toward the well screen ... these materials cannot enter the well screen and accumulate outside the well casing.”

KPUD shut off the well to redevelop and remove the blocking material but “it had limited success,” Hunter said.

Two Hansville wells also had to be closed because of high arsenic levels of 12 parts per billion, Morgan said. The national arsenic standard is 10 parts per billion.

Morgan said a treatment plant is being built in Hansville to remove arsenic, iron and manganese before the water can be consumed.

Another factor that breaches well water is sea-water intrusion, Morgan said.

The Sunrise Beach water system located in Eglon had increased chloride, or salt, levels believed to be related to sea-water leaching into the well source. KPUD took the two wells off line and extended the district’s North Peninsula main water line.

All in all Morgan said the project to connect the mains just makes sense.

“You take the water where it rains the most to supply places where it doesn’t receive as much precipitation,” Morgan said. However, there is no definite timeline for the project yet. “We have taken some necessary steps toward the project both capital-wise and administratively. But right now, there is no pressing need.”

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