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Summer may bring heated water choices

Mayor Bob Young -
Mayor Bob Young
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Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

Bonney Lake is considering the possibility of another hot, dry summer. At the May 4 City Council workshop the question of an emergency water source brought considerable discussion and no easy answer.

The choices available are to open the intertie to Tacoma Water, which is fluoridated, and to use Ball Park Well.

Water from Ball Park Well was added to the system during the drought last summer. The water from the well is high in manganese and other minerals, causing it to appear brown and unappetizing. However, according to the Pierce County/Tacoma Health Department, it is safe for human consumption.

Tacoma Water is fluoridated at its headwaters. The city of Bonney Lake appealed a ruling from the Health Department mandating they fluoridate their water system in April 2002. The case is currently in front of the state Supreme Court.

"If it is left to me, I'll use the Tacoma Water intertie," Mayor Bob Young said. "I would rather have the fluoride than the problems with Ball Park Well. That's why we're spending $3 1/2 million for a filtration plant to filter the water coming out of there."

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman expressed concern about using the Tacoma Water intertie.

"If the (state) Supreme Court comes back with a decision that the Health Board doesn't have the authority to mandate fluoride, I think the Health Board will appeal," Swatman said. "If a lawyer says you guys are taking fluoridated water already, it will be in the judges' minds. We've spent tens of thousands trying to fight this case. Doesn't this waste money? If we're running out of water I can deal with that, but not for convenience."

Young noted at the Council workshop the best guess was the intertie would only be used during a high peak period.

"We're talking about a couple of weeks probably at the most," Young said. "If the City Council wants to use Ball Park Well, they're going to have to say it, otherwise it is going to be the (Tacoma Water) intertie."

Last year the peak use of the Ball Park Well came in July and August with more than 56 million gallons pumped. According to the City's Web Site, about 74 million gallons of water were pumped out of Ball Park Well between May and September. The total amount of gallons of water pumped city wide was over 1 billion.

Ball Park Well accounted for 6.5 percent of the city's water.

"If it's an emergency, I can deal with Tacoma Water," Councilman Neil Johnson said. "But if it goes more than that, more than a few days I have a problem. If it goes farther than an emergency then the people need to vote whether they want fluoride or dirty-looking water."

The city is estimating 1,095 residential and 100 commercial customers in the 800 pressure zone would be most affected by the use of emergency water.

The mayor stated a newsletter would be sent out notifying people about the use of emergency water.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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