County: Who wants some nice water?

Could Grays Harbor County offer both short-term and long-term water options for thirsty, crisis-threatened, hold-your-nose-and-drink-it O.S. locals? Last night, O.S. Councilwoman Kathryn Sprigg wondered if the city should look – again – at county water as an option. “Maybe we should do a long term look at going with county water at some point,” she said, at a special meeting called to discuss a potential city water crisis. “We have certain perils in our water, it may be a long-term conversation.”

At the meeting, O.S.  Public Works Director Nick Bird said “we dodged a bullet.” Even though a chlorine manufacturer is still offline, the city now has a 75-to-90 day supply of the chemicals needed to provide safe drinking water. And Westlake Chemicals of Longview expects to be operating again by the end of the month, so the hope is Ocean Shores won’t have any shortages.

But what if they do? Could the county help out, short term?

“Funny you should say that,” Mark Cox, the county’s director of utilities, told the North Beach News today. “We do have a ‘back way’ into the water system of Ocean Shores.” Indeed, the county flipped the switch on to use Ocean Shores water for a day or two last year, after a water line needed to be repaired.

Cox said the flow has not gone the other way, from the county to the city, but he is almost positive that could happen. “But it couldn’t be for very long,” he noted.

Still, in an emergency situation, county water might come in handy ..

The county provides drinking water and sewer systems to much of the North Beach, including Hogan’s Corner, Copalis Beach and Pacific Beach. North Beachers have been very happy with the county system, with none of the complaints common in Ocean Shores (“smells bad,” “looks weird,” “tastes awful”). Those complaints have been addressed to somewhat extent since the city upgraded to a multi-million-dollar MIEX system, when Ocean Shores chose to go that route rather than work a deal with the county back in 2008.

What if Sprigg’s idea gets traction, and Ocean Shores wants to explore tapping into county water for a long-term deal?

Count Cox in:

“I’m always willing to have those discussions again,” he said.

“We’re in the business of selling water,” he added with a chuckle, “so we’d love to talk about it.”

More on that idea, later.

Meanwhile, North Beach drinkers of county water have nothing to worry about, in the short term. The county uses a different system and has ample supplies of its water purifiers.

“Ocean City, Pacific Beach, Moclips tanks are all filled and good til the end of summer,” Cox said.

“If you’re on a county system, you won’t see any disruption in service or boiling advisories” related to the current Westlake situation, he said.

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