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City taking steps to address potential water shortage

To prevent a possible water shortage in the next few years, the Sunnyside City Council approved a request this past Monday night to begin researching ways to solve the potential shortfall.

Public Works Superintendent Ken Ott and Engineer Jim Bridges went before Council asking to begin the process of hiring a consultant to aid in adding two more additional wells for city use.

Based on a report collected by Engineering and Economic Services (EES), which is preparing Sunnyside's water comprehensive plan update, the city could need to find adequate water supplies by the year 2005 considering the current residential growth pattern.

Bridges told Council the city could serve up to 14,895 residents until 2005 with its current water supply. However, the city is in the process of seeing two significant housing additions added to the community. One of the additions has 395 homes and the other addition features 50 homes.

The city currently has $350,000 set aside for capital improvements for the town's water system. Bridges said this money could be used for the engineering and design phases of the project. But the city would need to find additional money for construction.

Ott and Bridges were looking for approval from Council to apply for a combination of grants and low interest loans through the Washington Department of Health to help fund construction on the new wells. Bridges said there is a May 11 deadline for application submittal. He said funds would be made available in early 2005.

Ott said he is looking at the possibility of putting one of the new wells at the current well 4A site. Well 4A has not been operational for several years because of a problem with taste and odor in the water. There is also a problem with methane at well 4A. Ott said additional design engineering and hydrogeological studies would have to be done.

Ott and Bridges are looking at abandoning well 5 and transfering those water rights to a new well, which will be referred to as well 10.

Ott said the purpose of hiring a consultant is to determine where the new wells should be located. Ott is expecting it to take no more than two years before construction begins on any new wells.

"We need to get some experts on board," said Ott.

Responding to a question from Council, Bridges said if work had been done on improving the water quality at well 4A several years ago, the city wouldn't be in the crunch it is in now.

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