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Yachats still coveting steep timberlands to protect city water supply

Salmon Creek One source of Yachats municipal water

Salmon Creek
One source of Yachats municipal water

Concern about logging steep hillsides in the watershed - sediment loading could affect fish life and muni water treatment

Concern about logging steep hillsides in the watershed – sediment loading could affect fish life and muni water treatment

Water Treatment Facility

Water Treatment Facility

Migrating fish ladder Ken Gagne photos

Migrating fish ladder
Ken Gagne photos

Ken Gagne photos
Click to enlarge

The Yachats City Council has received a letter of strong support from the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), encouraging the city to acquire some higher elevation timber parcels before they’re clear cut. The DEQ and the city council are concerned how the steep slopes might erode and cause sedimentation of the creek. Sediment could affect the city’s water treatment facility as well as the ability of the stream to support fish life.

The upper 300 acres are private timberlands owned by Yachats Ivestments, LLC, Michael Riggs. Riggs has already logged about 75 acres up top with another ten acres to be logged in the near future. All three hundred acres are slated for harvesting.

DEQ says

“if the parcels are harvested the creek, river and downstream estuary would be at increased risk of streambed sedimentation, increased turbidity and elevated stream temperatures. Any pesticides applied to control weed and pioneer species could also reach waterways and/or groundwater, affecting drinking water as well as aquatic health. These impacts could result in greater expense for drinking water treatment by the city, increased risk of treatment plant shutdowns, negative effects on salmonids, amphibians and other aquatic life and reduced watershed resiliency to coastal storm events and other natural disturbances. In addition, the resulting fast-growing plantation forest may reduce streamflows 20 years or more after replanting thereby reducing available water supplies likely to be already stressed by predicted dry-season reductions in water quantity due to global climate change.”

“By maintaining the parcels as mature forestland, Yachats will be securing not only the quality and resiliency of its drinking water supply for its 700+ residents, it will also help to protect the Salmon Creek aquatic ecosystem. In addition, preserving the mature hemlock and spruce forest will help to reduce negative effects of drought on the water supply through the moderating effects provided by a mature forest.”


The DEQ added that the purchase or otherwise protection of these parcels are of the utmost importance to the city, as well as for considerations related to the presence of habitat for Marbled Murrelet which is a protected species under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Yachats Mayor Ron Brean says the city has been working with the Trust For Public Lands, a nationwide group that protects and preserves environmentally sensitive lands. The Trust has a long successful history of combining federal and private funds to achieve that goal. Mayor Brean said whatever package the Trust comes up with, the city of Yachats will be contributing something to it. He said Mr. Riggs is amenable to considering the acquisition of part of his property while adding he would like it done in an expeditious manner.


Mayor Brean said in addition to the area being home to the Murrelet, which is listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, the area is also considered prime habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl which is also listed as “Threatened.” Brean says because of this, the U.S. Forest Service is also interested in being a party to the discussions on the future of the property. No word on how long the process might take.


It’s Spring! And there’s nothing we can do about it….except go to this!

Spring is comin' at us!

Spring is comin’ at us!

Devils Lake Water Improvement District will be hosting a free rain garden training on Saturday, March 30, from 10am-1pm at the Driftwood library. The course will be presented by Maria Cahill of Green Girl Land Development and consist of two hours of in class interactive training, followed by a one hour field trip to the rain gardens at Regatta Park and East Devils Lake State Park.

Rain gardens are an effective way to treat stormwater on site, which prevents pollutants from entering the lake, and decreases heavy storm flows that erode property. Rain gardens can also be very attractive and create a nice center piece in your yard or garden.

factory sew and vac 3-10-13

This training will introduce what rain gardens are, when & where to use them, planning & design, plant selection, and maintenance. District staff will also be on hand to talk about the Save our Shoreline program which offers homeowners free consultation and plants for shoreline restoration and water improvement projects, like rain gardens.

For questions about the presentation or rain gardens, please contact the Devils Lake Water Improvement District at 541-994-5330 or SOS@DLWID.org


It’s official! Water in Newport tastes better…

Ribbon cutting at Newport’s new water treatment plant/Big Creek

The Newport City Council celebrated the official dedication of the town’s new $17+ million water treatment plant located off Big Creek Road near the reservoirs. The ribbon was cut, cake was eaten and much learned by all those who attended.

We were told that the plant serves 10,000 permanent year round residents within the distribution area, and up to 30,000 people at the height of the tourist season. Although a lot of Newport’s water comes from the Big Creek Reservoirs, much of the summer peak water demand requires that Newport import millions of gallons of water from the Siletz River, water that is pumped over the mountain to the coast which eventually flows into the Big Creek upper and lower reservoirs.

Water then enters an elaborate, very high tech water filtration system and then is sent out throughout the town. The water, however, does not contain fluoride, a cavity fighter that is included in a majority of water systems in the country. City Public Works Department Director Tim Gross says the fluoride system on the old water system died years ago and was never repaired or replaced. Gross said although a fluoride injection system has been built into the new plant it’s not being used. He said the decision to activate the system is strictly up to the city council. City Councilor Lon Brusselback said he would like to be the first city councilor to make the motion to add fluoride to Newport’s drinking water.

Gross says although the system is in place, it may take a while to activate it. That’s because he needs a place to securely store fluoride in a special holding area. And that won’t happen, he says, until the old part of the plant is demolished and a new storage facility is built.

Gross says the next part of the water system upgrade is the construction of a new one million gallon water tank in the Agate Beach area to beef up fire protection for residences and businesses in the north part of town. Gross says the design of the tank is nearly complete. He says the tank will go out to bid early next year with construction expected to start next summer and be ready for service before the end of 2013.

Brown water alert in Newport! DON’T WASH YOUR CLOTHES!!!!

Many residents in the downtown region of Newport have been experiencing cloudy water over the last few hours. This was caused by inadvertent pipe scouring during the operating transition between the old and new water treatment facilities. The cloudiness in the water is caused by suspended manganese that normally lines the walls of the water distribution pipes. A sudden surge in water such as a fire hydrant being turned on will cause the manganese to break away from the pipe walls.

The water is safe to drink but you should wait to do laundry or use a lot of hot water until the manganese settles out. Using hot water causes the manganese to collect in the hot water heater.

The city is actively flushing the lines but the cloudy water issue is so widespread across town that it will likely need to settle in the lines before the water clears up. This may take several hours. The city apologizes for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Lincoln City finds large new water supply right under their feet!

David Hawker, Lincoln City City Manager

Lincoln City City Manager David Hawker offered some very pleasant good news to his city council Monday night. He said the city has managed to find an additional 14% water for the town, and it didn’t cost the city hardly anything to get it.

Hawker said the town’s “water leak detection” program has been turning up some big water wasting leaks. Hawker said that public works crews recently found a great big one. One that was wasting millions of gallons which, beyond wasting water, was driving up operating costs at the city’s water treatment plant.

Hawker said he hopes to have more good news on their efforts to stop water leaks all over Lincoln City. He said they have found another major league leaker. However, says Hawker, it’s been a bit challenging – but he has faith that city crews will pull it off.

Water main break in north Newport repaired – some brown water residual – let pipes run a bit to clear it out.

Water line break, Highway 101/Agate Beach Golf Course

Reports say that a water main on Highway 101 near the golf course failed Wednesday evening around 9pm. City officials said the pipe is about 70 years old. Public Works Director Tim Gross said they responded to the line break but were not aware that the Longview Hills booster pump, up the hill, had shut itself down. So after they fixed the line on 101, they figured they were done.

Unbeknownst to the crew, the booster pump at Longview Hills estates had indeed shut itself down, the result of low water pressure due to the leak down on the highway. Gross said the pump does not yet have an auto-reporting system connected to it, a system which instantly reports a shut-down directly to water plant operators. He said he has been given approval to begin outfitting every water and sewer pump station within the city with the auto-report system but added that it’ll likely take five years to get them all installed since there are over 50 pump stations involved. Gross said when they discovered the booster pump was off, they simply restarted it and everything returned to normal for Longview Hills residents.

Earlier today, some residents reported brown water coming through their taps and in their toilets but they were told to keep flushing and let their taps run until the water clears up. Obviously you shouldn’t wash clothes until your washing machine is running on clear water again. Typically it shouldn’t take long to clean it out.

Gross has often mentioned to the city council that Newport’s water and sewer line distribution system is very old and in dire need of replacing. Gross said the problem is a national one, in which our sewer and water lines have been out of sight, out of mind for decades and so they are beginning to fail with some regularity. Gross says higher water and sewer rates will, over time, provide the necessary revenue to put Newport’s sewer and water systems at a sustainable, and therefore more reliable level of service.


Coast Tree

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