Sumner looks at future water rights

The need for Sumner to find new sources of water was discussed at a study session Nov. 24.

The need for Sumner to find new sources of water was discussed at a study session Nov. 24.

City Administrator John Doan said the city needs to develop new locations of its own or buy water in order to accommodate future needs.

Sumner owns the rights to water in springs and wells, which are already being used in addition to other sources and drilling on another well ended this month, Public Works Director Bill Pugh said.

The city started the work for exploratory wells, Pugh said.

“The probability is we’re going to drill a new well,” he said. Drilling this month ended along the White River off 142.

Wells can be tricky because the amount of water in the well, which they draw from is affected by the amount of water in the rainfall or runoff. A well is dependent on the amount of water in the aquifer that feeds it. The aquifer is an underground storage pocket, which fills with water when rain runoff collects inside. A well is actually a pipe inserted into the aquifer. If the well removes water at the same rate as it is refilled with rainwater, it is a steady supply. If not, the aquifer needs to be placed deeper in the ground so it doesn’t dry up.

An obstacle now is many aquifers are related to streams and rivers in that water drains from one to the other. Lowering aquifer levels can reduce the amount of water in streams and rivers, which makes it difficult for fish to swim. If water is drawn from a stream to supply an aquifer, it’s possible for the city to redirect water from another source to allow smoother passage for fish.

Further complicating Sumner’s water availability is the difference between water rights and water capacity. A city’s water rights refers to the water it owns.

Pugh said water rights is stated on a piece of paper, declaring ownership, but it doesn’t mean the city is able to obtain the water. The problem is what is owned isn’t necessarily water the city has access to, meaning it may be in a location where it can’t be physically removed due to geographical barriers.

At the meeting, council was presented a map of its water service area showing where different water sources are located.

The presentation included a map showing water locations and a graph demonstrating the estimated water demand over the next 20 years. The chart also included the existing demand for water rights and the level of water that can actually be drawn out.

The chart shows a projected demand for water exceeding both the amount of water the city has rights to and the water it has the capacity to withdraw.

If enough water isn’t discovered or newly removed from the ground, another option is to purchase water from a provider.

Doan said Tacoma Water is a major water purveyor and Bonney Lake is not ruled out as a potential provider.

Cascade Water Alliance is considering drawing water from Lake Tapps and is in the process of the environmental analysis.

“If we get it from somebody else, it has to be from somewhere with a surplus,” Pugh said.

Buying water is a costly undertaking, sometimes requiring millions of dollars up front, he said.

Doan stated much is taken into consideration when deciding on a water source, such as price, reliability, and whether the water will contain fluoride.

Tacoma Water is a possible supplier of water but the Sumner City Council expressed a preference in the past for non-fluoridated water, but Tacoma’s water contains fluoride.

The process is ongoing and will be discussed at future meetings.

Chaz Holmes can be reached at cholmes@courierherald.com or 360-802-8208.

More in News

Former Plateau resident lands role with Marvel T.V. series

McKay Stewart, who spent much of his childhood in Enumclaw and Bonney Lake, will be joining the Marvel universe in a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airing Friday, Jan. 19.

Black Diamond hits the reset button

The new Black Diamond City Council wasted no time on settling in and testing the political waters. On their first meeting of the year, new Councilwomen Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and returning Councilwomen Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman marched through a long list of agenda items, many of which reversed council policies and goals set over the last two years.

Citizen group urges council to start pool planning

With the Sumner High School pool closing at the end of the 2018-2019 swim season, residents are asking the City of Bonney Lake to build a city pool to house the Panther and Spartan swim teams. A presentation on why the council should start planning a pool as quickly as possible is being held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Bonney Lake releases findings on water meter tests, ends internal audit

Dozens of residents complained to the council last October about what they called impossibly high water bills. After several months performing an internal audit of the water utility system, including testing 43 water meters from homes that received a high water bills, the city holds there is no bug in the system, and residents used the amount of water recorded on their bills. But some residents, and even councilmembers, remain unconvinced.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Teacher, student reconnect at living center after 66 years

A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different. So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

Sumner School District seeks name ideas for new elementary school

Want to name your new local school? Just fill out a short form by Jan. 26

Judge reproaches Black Diamond mayor, former city council majority

In a summary judgement hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Janet Helson said she was troubled by both the actions of Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and former City Council majority Pat Pepper, Brian Weber, and Erika Morgan over the last two years concerning potential Open Public Meetings Act violations.

Most Read