Supplying healthy, great tasting water is one of the most important things the city does for our residents. The city has relied on Myrtle Creek as its primary water source for nearly 100 years, but as the fire in the Myrtle Creek drainage in 2003 demonstrated, backup water sources are very important. The city has used water from the Kootenai River as a backup for decades, but it is more challenging to treat, and the taste of the water just isn’t as good as the Myrtle Creek water.
The city acquired property in the Fry Auditorium neighborhood two years ago to establish a well site for drinking water to give us an alternate source of supply. We drilled a test well, and found that the water was well suited for drinking water, and it tasted great! We recently obtained a water right for up to 449 gallons per minute from the well, which can serve all of the needs of the city for approximately seven months of the year. This will allow us to use the well as our primary source of water during the fall, winter and spring seasons if needed.
Our city engineer, Mike Klaus, is currently designing the well house and water system changes that are necessary to integrate the well into our water system. We expect to bring the well online next year. In addition to acting as a backup source or the primary source when water demand is low, the well will give us extra capacity during the high demand summer months, and increased fire flow capacity. We have enough property to develop at least one additional well, which will give us even more capacity and flexibility in the future.
Both the Myrtle Creek and Kootenai River water require filtering, since they are surface water sources. Ground water does not generally require filtering, so developing a well also gives us operational flexibility, as the water does not need to go through our water filter plant. Our filter plant was constructed in the 1950s, and is in need of renovations and upgrades. Having the well will make it easier to perform the upgrades in the coming years, as the water filter plant could be taken out of service during the winter months.
Securing additional water capacity is important for the future of our city, and we are very fortunate to have found a quality groundwater source in the city to provide great water for our residents.
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David Sims is the mayor of Bonners Ferry.