ILWACO - Naselle thinks it's got water shortages, but so does Ilwaco, which appears to be affecting the amount of iron in Ilwaco's water supply, said Ilwaco Mayor Ed Leonard.
"Essentially all we need is rain, that's the problem in Ilwaco too right now," said Leonard. "If you have a prolonged period of beautiful weather out here this time of year, it is usually a drought."
According to Leonard, the lack of rain has impacted the main source of Ilwaco's water supply, the Indian Creek Reservoir, which is located five miles northeast of Ilwaco in the foothills of the Willapa Hills, adjacent to Ilwaco's water treatment facility.
Due to the dry conditions this summer, the water level of the Indian Creek Reservoir has been going down since July, which Leonard said leads to an unusually high concentration of iron in the water prior to being treated.
"Normal concentration before treatment is 5 parts per million," said Leonard. "As of last week, one day we saw 9 parts per million, which is unnaturally high."
According to Leonard, the consequence of this for the plant is that it clogs filters. The end result is that there is a higher iron content in the finished water.
Leonard said the water's still safe to drink, but it might have some discoloration. His concern now is that if there isn't some more rain soon, in addition to what was seen earlier this week, that the iron content will get higher and affect the taste.
"But there is a long way before I see the taste being affected," said Leonard. "There is some chance of exceeding EPA standards, but there is not any danger of this any time soon. If this does appear likely, we will notify people and take care of the situation."
Leonard said that almost all communities in Western Washington have difficulty with their water supply during dry periods, particularly communities that use surface water as their main water source.
Long Beach also gets its water from surface water supplies, but according to Rick Gray, plant operator at Long Beach's water treatment facility, there is not a problem with high iron content at this time.
Long Beach's water treatment facility is located near Sandridge Road and 67th Place and its water supply comes from two different reservoirs. One is the Dohman Reservoir, which is located approximately 1/4 mile east of the facility. Another is the Main Impoundment Reservoir, which is located only 200 yards from the water treatment facility.
"The only time we see an iron or manganese problem is when we pump water from Mattix Creek, which is located near the facility," said Gray. "It's a spring that feeds a sump. But this is only used as a backup water source."