OCEAN PARK - At the most recent North Peninsula Improvement Association meeting water quantity, availability, and quality were the topics of interest.

A panel of four addressed the issue, beginning with Fire Dist. No. 1 Chief, Tom O'Donohue.

He said, "It has been over 20 years since Fire District No. 1 has been rated by the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau. With Class 1 being the best and Class 10 the worst, in 1983 we were rated District Protection Class 7."

O'Donohue explained that the Bureau rated each fire district on water supply, fire department efficiency, communications, and safety control.

"We looked into seeing if our evaluation could possibly drop to a 5 or 6 and found that we more than likely would be a Class 8."

In order to be recognized for residential fire protection, a water supply must produce 250 gallons per minute for two hours or 500 gpm for one hour plus meet maximum consumption rate. Ocean Park Water Company, a private enterprise, currently provides 100 gpm without harming the one-half million gallons of water stored above ground, according to the NPIA.

With water supply being 39 percent of the overall rating, the inadequacy of sustainable water pressure is a big component of the potential drop in rating in the Ocean Park area. O'Donohue said residential and business fire insurance premiums increase an average of 7 percent for every drop in class.

He also cautioned that if a fire at any large structure on the north end of the Peninsula could not be extinguished by the first tanker truck, the structure would likely be lost due to a lack of water supply.

Phil Leach, of Ocean Park Water Co., said 80 percent of his 2,100 customers are users during the summer months, and the system is designed to meet peak withdrawals at that time. He says OP Water is growing at about 10 percent per year and that a new hookup is $450, or about the actual cost of installation.

"An increase from the present 8-inch pipe to a 10-inch pipe on Vernon Avenue in Ocean Park would be ideal," according to Leach. The improvement would be costly. Ilwaco currently charges $3,500 to hook up to their system, according to the NPIA minutes.

Ken Karch of Surfside Homeowners Association gave a report on their water system. He said there were 1,650 hookups including approximately 600 full-time residents. He said the consumption rate on the four 158,000-gallon storage tanks and 20 miles of pipe has increased about 3 percent per year.

Karch said there were three shallow wells and six deep wells and users were not metered. There are no inter-ties to other systems, and he felt there was a need to obtain more fire-suppression details concerning the Surfside Homeowners system.

Mark Clemmons, of the Oysterville Co-op said a 60,000-gallon storage tank and new water mains were recently installed. The co-op has one 87-foot well and can draw 40 gallons per minute per water rights for the 74 subscribers.

In order to hook up to the Oysterville water system, one must pay $4,500 and $10 per month plus an additional fee for extraordinary usage.

After hearing the reports, the NPIA discussed the possibility of creating a water tower and sharing expenses with the Ocean Beach School District for its construction. The OBSD is currently planning to spend $300,000 for an aboveground tank system as part of the Ocean Park School remodeling project, according to NPIA member, Curt Stephens.

The NPIA is working on a proposal to share the cost with the school district and everyone could reap the benefits of a water tower for storage and increased water pressure for fire prevention in the Ocean Park area. NPIA member, Tom Downer, has already worked with county commissioners to receive approval of a water tower if that should become a viable solution.

The next six to 18 months are critical in developing a plan to solve present and future water problems on the north Peninsula.

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