Redmond places moratorium on reclaimed water in parts of the city

Recent regulatory changes from the Department of Ecology (DOE) have paved the way for local jurisdictions to use reclaimed water for a number of uses in the state.

Reclaimed water is treated sewage and wastewater that is purified to a level where it can be used for purposes other than drinking, including watering lawns and recharging groundwater reservoirs.

It can additionally be used for replenishing wetlands, increasing water flow in streams and rivers and to control dust.

In order for municipalities to use reclaimed water for the approved uses, they must obtain a permit from the state.

The rules passed by DOE establish a uniformed set of reclaimed water standards throughout the state.

A spokesperson for DOE said King County had not approached their agency to use reclaimed water to recharge groundwater aquifers.

At a Jan. 16 meeting, the Redmond City Council approved interim regulations banning the use of reclaimed water for a year to protect the city’s aquifer recharge area.

An aquifer supplies groundwater to five shallow municipal wells that pump 4 million gallons of water daily and supplies up to 40 percent of the city’s drinking water.

It is additionally a shallow aquifer, with parts of it only five feet beneath the ground.

Gary Schimek, natural resources manager for Redmond, said his staff recommended the regulations based on culminating factors.

These include the shallow aquifer, its location beneath the downtown urban center and the lack of a protective layer of sediment.

Their main concern is a lack of scientific data showing reclaimed water, once it entered the Redmond aquifer, would be safe to drink.

“We are very supportive of the use of reclaimed water for beneficial uses outside of our critical aquifer recharge area,” Schimek said.

Reclaimed water is already being used outside of the recharge area by the Willows Run Golf Course and the city’s 60-Acre Park.

The recharge area is relatively unique in the county and potentially the state, Schimek said.

The aquifer’s lack of a protective layer of sediment means water may pass more easily through it without being naturally cleaned.

Reclaimed water has higher nitrate levels than drinking water and Schimek wasn’t aware of studies showing if it would be filtered out before reaching the aquifer.

“We’re kind of using a precautionary principal here,” he said.

The level of water in Redmond’s aquifer fluctuates with the seasons, getting lower in the summer and recharging during the rainy season.

King County has reached near drought conditions in 2015 following a dry summer.

According to DOE, at least one municipality in Thurston County is using reclaimed water to refill its aquifers.

The City of Othello is also looking into using reclaimed water to recharge its Odessa aquifer, which is being depleted.

If studies emerge showing reclaimed water is safe to use in Redmond’s aquifer recharge area, Schimek said they may re-examine the prohibition on its use.

Other protections for the aquifer are in place, including encouraging businesses to limit runoff, which can make its way into groundwater supplies.

The aquifer stretches in an L shape from north of Sammamish, west through Redmond and to south of Woodinville.

More in News

Sarah Yount, former YES client, speaks at YES’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 2. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Youth Eastside Services celebrates 50 years

YES celebrates 50 years of providing youth and family behavioral health services.

Sky Metalwala has been missing for seven years. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police plead for help in search for missing boy

Sky has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011 and turned 9 years old on Sept. 2.

Suspect arrested after stealing paychecks | Police blotter

The Redmond police blotter from Oct. 22 through 24. Courtesy of the RPD blog.

Kuderer leads Tom; Walen over Bright

Legislative District 48 race. Results are preliminary.

Democrats lead in 45th Legislative District

Dhingra, Goodman and Springer earned about two thirds of the vote.

DelBene leads in 1st Congressional District in early returns

As of election night, incumbent Suzan DelBene was leading with 69 percent of the vote, to Jeffrey Beeler’s 31 percent.

Marcus Naylor and Joshua Schaer.
                                Marcus Naylor and Joshua Schaer.
Naylor leads Eastside judicial race

Results are preliminary.

King County property assessments have begun for some Eastside neighborhoods

County property appraisers visit around one-sixth of all properties in the county each year to ensure the homes are valued correctly.

From left: Samantha Areliz (VALA curator), Marisa Mouton Provo (VALA Communication Director) and Zachary Burns (artist) look upon the Gatesville exhibit at the new VALA Eastside in Kirkland. Madison Miller/staff photo.
VALA Arts moves to Kirkland; changes name to VALA Eastside

VALA Eastside makes Kirkland its permanent home.

Upcoming shelter for women and families offers hope to Eastside

The city of Kirkland anticipates the shelter for families and women to be completed in 2020.

Richard Cole served from 1988 to 2011. Cole, 77 died on Wednesday, Oct. 25 after a long battle with Parkinson’s. File photo
Former Redmond councilmembers die in span of three weeks

Family members speak on how they influenced the community

PSE natural gas bills will be lower this winter

This is the lowest rates the utility has provided since 2004.