Friday, June 5, 2015

Dry Socket to ME??? AKA: Water, Me Worry?

You know, water has been many things in Port Angeles. Glenn Cutler, professional bully, used it as a weapon. The City has used it as a give-away to Nippon, and a money extraction device deployed on their utility customers. Dan Morrison, professional land rapist, uses and abuses it to race his stupid, stupid little boats on. Heck, Lee Whetham even supported its use as an aesthetic tool, worrying as he did (and perhaps still does) about "brown yards."
But the one thing that water never seems to get talked about as in Port Angeles is, oh, you know, an essential ingredient to life itself. You know, as in, food, water and air. Ah, yes...Those things.
With that in mind, I've been very interested in, and appreciative of, the updates from one of you on the current Elwha water levels. So thank you, concerned reader, and please do feel free to continue sharing your info/input, like the below:
And, the Elwha river level has dropped again, to 594 cfs today. Normal/average for this day is 2180.

And, hot weather is forecast. We'll see what happens over the next week.
The Elwha River has dropped another 20 cfs in the last 4 hours!

Now at 575 cfs!

Here's a new graph on this subject, to help drive the point home:
Yes, that's right. The Olympics are at 0% of normal. Right now. And it's only June. And it seems unlikely they'll get much snow before, oh, what, October? November? And at any rate, that snow will be 2016 water, not 2015.
Here's another graph for you:
It doesn't seem unlikely that these low flow days soon will be the new average, or certainly a lot more common. Which naturally enough raises the question of what the City will do in response to this. Nippon won't be able to operate. Fish will die in massive numbers. Fires will be even more threatening than normal. People will panic. Lawns will go well beyond brown, and the Turd Tank will be nothing more than a fifty million dollar monument to the inability of Port Angeles residents to even flush their toilets.
All that, and more...And you've got Dan DiGuilio and Pat Downie and Cherie Kidd and Lee Whetham and Dan Gase in charge. I think you can call that adding insult(s) to injury. So what will the City do? Given that it's an election year, you'd best ask the candidates what they'd do. Because, so far as I can see, there hasn't been much done yet, other than a lot of can kicking and online clicking.
But really, you can't ignore this issue, Port Angeles, because...


  1. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Without the two dams, Reservoirs, surely the river doesn't flow the same.

    1. Uh, no. The river isn't flowing "the same" because there's 0% of normal snowpack. Please enlarge that first chart up above, and then ponder what that means.

    2. Here is this, in today's PDN:

      "OUTDOORS: Strike fast while rivers have fish . . . and enough water
      By Michael Carman
      Peninsula Daily News

      LOW WATER CONDITIONS already are making an impact on streams and rivers on the North Olympic Peninsula.

      Stealth fishing techniques normally reserved for the high summer days of late July and August already are becoming the norm on the West End."

      This is the only reference I've found in the PDN about the situation.

      As you see, the "low water conditions" are impacting the whole County, not just the Elwha. But, "Composites" and funding the City's waterfront project are a more pressing topic for the county's leadership.

    3. Given your extensive expertise on the water systems, you should explain the city-PUD#1 interties and how other sources of water could be negotiated and swapped in dire situations.

    4. What "other sources of water" do you know of? None of the authorities are making any mention of them. PUD representatives have spoken at public meetings on the topic recently, and made no mention of "other sources".

    5. PUD#1 operates wells, has storage tanks, has evaluated desalinization. Water welll drawdown rate isn't immediately impacted by a drought. Tertiary wastewater treatment can provide landscaping water. This dry spell is a nudge in those directions. BTW the Elwha is still flowing this a.m. The city's Ranney well is still operational if needed.

    6. Please do cite how much water storage capacity PUD#1 has, and where it is located. Of the nine systems it operates, how many days of capacity exist?

      Desalination is very expensive, and will not be built this year. Of course, very expensive water is better than no water at all.

      Water well drawn down is very much impacted by drought, especially in areas with relatively small watersheds, like the north side of the Olympic Peninsula. Not much area between the slopes and the Strait. Without water to replenish, the water table continues to drain down.

      Tertiary water can provide water for landscaping, but the "purple pipe" separate piping systems to get the water from the sewage treatment plants to houses is very expensive.

      Of course the Elwha is still flowing, and Ranney well still functioning. The question is, will they be by September? Current trends strongly indicate they will not. Then what?

      Will we be lining up, with water cans in hand, to get our "rationed" water?

  2. Have no fear, PA city staff will provide one of their stellar presentations on the state of the water supply at the next city council meeting. If it compares with the presentations on the state of ambulance service or the state of the public access channel then we better purchase some food grade barrels and stock up while there is water in the tap.

  3. The Port Angeles city council has discussed the water issues, and were given a power point presentation about a month or so ago. The reason for the discussion? It was said that, because the city anticipated lower water conditions ( and they showed very compelling graphs and charts), they needed to reevaluate the water rates charged residents, because they likely would be using less water.

    Absolutely no discussions about what the "Plan B" options are.

    The council has been asked, since, what they plan to do. No responses.

    The State and local people involved in water issues also held a meeting in Sequim last month, Although it was billed as a "Community meeting", and attendees thought they would be discussing the dire situation, the public was instead presented with 2 hours of power point shows that described what has been done "before".

    But, there has not been a "before" like this, in recorded North west modern history. The " we did this during the last drought" is meaningless, as is evidenced by the dropping flow rates in every stream, creek and river on the Oly Pen.

    In a number of ways, the conditions NOW are the same as they are in late summer. The flow rates NOW, in the Elwha River, are the SAME as the lowest points seen in the past, for an entire year. And we still have two weeks before the start of summer.

    Assuming this trend continues (and there is no reason to think it won't), many of the streams, creeks and rivers on the Olympic Peninsula WILL dry up before the Fall rains return. Many wells will also drop dramatically, and run dry.

    Right now, around the Peninsula, we see the grasses turning brown. The moss on the trees and rocks is dry. Everything is getting pretty crunchy. At the "Community Meeting" in Sequim, the State DNR fire forecaster stated Clallam County had the highest catastrophic fire rating in the State. With water drying up, putting out fires will be more difficult. Plan accordingly.

    So, what are people going to do? The City's plan is "rationing". Good luck with that.

    And, as CK correctly points out, this is not an "anomaly" as some say. This is not an "unusual situation" that we just have to suffer through until we "return to normal, again".

    At the City Council meeting last month, a graph was presented that showed the high and low flows of the Elwha over the last 15 years. It showed that, even WITH snow packs in the mountains, the river has run to 300 cfs or lower 9 years out of the last 15. Pretty much, every other year! The city has been clearly aware that it's source of water has been getting increasingly less dependable.

    The glaciers in the Olympics are disappearing, and have been melting away for years now. For the same reason the snow pack has been shrinking for years. This has been the subject of many scientific studies, and even recent presentations in Port Angeles.

    They can't say they didn't know this was coming.

    Where was the planning? Why are we now in a crisis, a crisis that could have been averted.

    Even if some kind of miracle creates heavy rains throughout the summer to keep the areas streams, creeks and rivers flowing, the writing is on the wall. The region is turning drier. Area governments have to plan accordingly.

  4. Worth repeating:

    "At the "Community Meeting" in Sequim, the State DNR fire forecaster stated Clallam County had the highest catastrophic fire rating in the State. With water drying up, putting out fires will be more difficult. Plan accordingly."

    Plan? Uh oh. Port Angeles doesn't exactly have a track record of putting the P-A in "plan"...

    1. No, but we're nearly halfway to PAnic....

    2. Clallam County ranks 11th among something like 394 counties in the western states for catastrophic fire danger, according to state fire specialists.

  5. Look through the PDN for the last month or so, and see what they have to say about this. Nothing I can find. Maybe they should change their name, not to include "News" any more. It is just a silly cheer leading rag. "Another Great Day in Port Angeles"!

  6. Some fun with numbers.

    Gravity keeps pulling water down, and it runs down hill to the Strait, eventually. Without snow pack to slowly melt over the spring and early summer months to replenish the water running down the hill to the Strait, things dry out.

    But, gravity isn't the only factor in how much water runs in the areas streams, creeks and rivers.

    The hills above and around Port Angeles have a lot of trees. A lot are conifers. Trees suck up water. How much, you might ask.

    Roughly 70% of the rain that falls on a forested section of land is sucked up and evaporated into the air in what is called "evapotranspiration". Of 40 inches of rain that would fall over a year, 29 inches would evapotransporate. 11 inches would become streamflow.

    One inch of rain over an acre is 27,000 gallons. Port Angeles used to average 25 inches a year.

    Trees transpire water more during the summer, than during the winter.

    So, as we sit in our yards and enjoy the warm weather from now until the rains return in November, we can know the trees in the watershed around Port Angeles are busily sucking up vast amounts of water, and evaporating it into the air.

    1. Another dead weekend downtown, and now another big Sunday PDN without a word about this incredibly important topic. They will give extensive coverage to the most ridiculous things, but the fact that our water is going to run out before summer is over? Nary a peep.

      Now that's a real community newspaper.

  7. It sure seems like these Best Town Ever boosters haven't been paying attention, or even looking out their own door.

    They just think: "Oh boy! The Outside magazine people will come to Port Angeles! They're gonna write an article about us!"

    Right. And they can write an article about how there's no water, no rivers, no greenery, no fishing and an outsized threat of wildfire. That'll be great. They can write about how downtown closes up at 6PM, about the empty storefronts and movie theater, those will be real attractions for readers. They can take photo after photo of our multi-million dollar waterfront sidewalks - with no one there to walk on them.

    Scenic vistas that are actually in Port Angeles (as opposed to the cheat shots from the region)? How about the log yard? Turd Tank anyone? Maybe the horrible pipes that vomit our creeks out into the Strait? Those all ought to be picturesque.

    In other words, this "good" news (media attention!) could easily turn out to be very bad news (media attention!) indeed. But the local yokels just can't - won't - see that. They've lived with a corrupt and degraded status quo for so long, they're used to it, maybe even like it in a sick way. Which means they have no clue - none at all - about just how wrung out and pathetic this town can (and will) look to outsiders. Even those nice outsiders from Outside magazine.

    Be careful what you wish for seems like an apt phrase for all this foolishness.

  8. The number of hits here continues to be roughly double what they usually are, which is good, because people really do need to know about the whole well-runs-dry thing that's headed their way.

    However, so much for the idea that the Nippon plant will get turned into a water bottling operation. Oops!

  9. Did anyone here ever hear or know about that magazine before who-ever got the Revitalize folks all fired up on this contrived "contest"? I hadn't.

    How many people, really, even know about or read that magazine?

    I return to the reality that the Coho dumps 400,000 people a year right into the middle of downtown Port Angeles, every year, throughout most of the year. More than read that magazine, I would venture.

    And, the ONP brings something like 3 million visitors specifically interested in the OUTSIDE to and through Port Angeles every year, throughout most the year. Again, more that all that know and read that magazine.

    And, as of today, the sidewalks and streets are empty. Despite another event, specifically for outside types, the town is dead.

    What is it going to take to get the boosters to figure this out? We don't need to attract more people here, they are ALREADY COMING HERE. They need to figure out why virtually NONE of them find the town interesting enough to stop in.

    At one Revitalize meeting, a member was all excited about an idea to put a map of downtown at the rest stop over by Morse Creek. They are all excited about Dan's Fantasy Tram. They think buying the Lincoln is a winning idea. They think this silly contest is Port Angeles' salvation. This shows the way they think, and, why Port Angeles in more dead now, than ever.

    But like the water situation, they don't want to see what is really going on. Or, address it.

    1. It's been around since 1977. Founders Jann Wenner (i.e. Rolling Stone Magazine founder, and US Weekly) and William Randolph Hearst III (part of the Hearst family) and John Gardner Ford (son of President Ford).
      It was sold 2 years later, and has been in continuous publication since 1977.

    2. Yes. But. Yes, it was founded decades ago, with big names. Now it is run out of New Mexico.

      It has been around that long, and Port Angeles is still a ghost town.

      It really turned into a ghost town when the Feds forced Canada to require passports. Before, there were cars lining the streets, and the hotels were overflowing with cots for visitors. There were three ferries running. Now, one ferry only, which can barely fill up most of the time.

      Along those lines, it looks like Jack Harmon, who used to run the two passenger ferries to Victoria, has bailed on his "Expeditions Northwest" venture that used to be located at the Landing. No signs, No billboard. No boats.

      And, the docks for the pilot boat business he also ran, that were located at the Landing, are also gone. No boats there now, either.

    3. Outside Magazine? Yeah, it's on all the newstands. I've looked through it before, bought a few of them. Not a bad magazine, but not worth my subscribing to.

      I agree there are a lot more pressing issues facing Port Angeles than winning a ballot-stuffing contest, but people do read Outside Magazine. It's not like these websites that keep popping up out of nowhere and declaring Port Angeles "most liveable town" or whatever.

  10. Let's contrast Tom Harper's shilling that "Port Angeles' star keeps rising" with the facts here about how our water supply keeps dropping.

    Both can't be true. One will absolutely cancel out the other.

    1. And, did you see all the different articles about that contest that the PDN is still running? The boosters really seem to be pinning there hopes on that.

    2. Speaking of Tom Harper's blog, have you seen today's post:

      "Today's Peninsula Poll question may or may not be related to a certain unbalanced former Port Angeles resident with nothing to do and all day to do it:

      Have you ever been on the receiving end of a caustic social media blitz?"

      Hunh? I don't get what he is trying to say.

    3. All these people who state they "know" who did or did not do things online are making asses of themselves. To quote one of my late law professors, they're assuming facts not in evidence.

      Per the "Best Town" contest, they all claim to "know" that A) They "know" that just one person posted ALL negative comments, and B) That they "know" who that one person is.

      All without a whit of proof, or even evidence, except for their own biases. That sounds like lawyer bait to me.

      But really, WHO CARES? The contest was tacky and pointless, and so were some of the offending comments. And so..? It is also very bizarre and hypocritical for either the PDN or Tom Harper to try to take the high ground, when all they've even done from that elevated vantage point is sling mud themselves.

      Life goes on. Port Angeles lost. Find a new fall guy to blame, if that makes you feel better, and let's get on with things.

    4. To repeat something that's already been pointed out before here, the person they're blaming appears to have had his name used without his permission as well. The comments I saw, and saw being deleted, were coming fast and furious at times, and could not have all been coming from one person. Facts, people, facts. We need facts here in Port Angeles, not more fantasies and conspiracy theories.

    5. Oh, please....Tom Harper is as gullible as they come. Especially when the lies and distortions are coming from his - wait for it - rent-paying tenants, the Clallam County Democratic Party. He doesn't just believe the BS when it comes down the pipe, he broadcasts it further. Fact checking? Naw.

      As for his wife claiming to be "disabled"....Again, oh please. Obesity is not a disability, it's a choice you make. And a bad one at that. To try and cover up your own lack of control as a disability is well and truly insulting to those with real physical challenges.

    6. Has it ever occurred to anyone but me that what is motivating Harper is just plain jealousy? His blog used to be the only game in town, until Unearthed came along. Once that happened, Harper's blog kind of withered away and he started acting in an ever-more erratic, angry and paranoid fashion.

      I don't think we need a big, involved conspiracy theory here. Tom Harper simply has a big, green-eyed monster on his back.

    7. Okay already...We're going well off track here with these Tom Harper comments. It's like something that would happen on, well, his blog. (Irony alert: When I started Unearthed, the only way I was able to announce it to PA was by posting a couple of comments on his blog. So Unearthed got its start thanks to Tom.)

      Anyway, blog bashing isn't what this post is about. That's not that interesting or important. The idea of Port Angeles running out of water is.

      'Nuff said - I hope.

    8. I know, I know, but...It is heartening to see that Harper's latest obsessive smear of Max is being challenged by his own few readers. Maybe, just maybe, Tom will wake up to the fact that not everyone is as interested in Max, or blaming Max for the ills of the world, as he is. And maybe, just maybe, he'll see that if you're going to accuse someone of doing something, you need more evidence to do so than just your own grudge against the individual.

    9. Given Tom's history, and fairly well-documented temper, well, it's not too hard to believe he'd lash out first, and think second.

  11. Hey guys ease up, evolution will kick in and humans will be able to survive without water. Just give us a few eons.

  12. Now if we can only get these "Revitalize" folks to put one/tenth the 'best town ever' energy into focusing the city councils, county commissions, state legislature and the governor's office on the dire need for a reliable water supply for Peninsula residents. Of course that would require a "reality check" which has been in short supply lately.

  13. It will be interesting to see what the conditions are by late summer, and early fall, when Cherie Kidd and crew will be campaigning for your votes.

    Cherie, in particular, has been in civic leadership positions for a long time. Since the water situation has been bad for a long time, why hasn't she, and others, been working to get storage facilities identified, and built?

    Why hasn't the Public Works Director and his staff brought this vulnerability to the council's attention?

    Why is it ONLY in the context of raising water rates( because the city will lose revenue with reduced water use by residents), that the City Staff bring the water issues before the council?

    How about County Commissioners? This isn't only a Port Angeles problem, as we see in the post above. Already, the West End is seeing late summer low water conditions in their rivers.

    Are people going to be asking King Jim why he hasn't been addressing this issue? Where is Bill Peach on this?

    And, in Sequim, what are they going to do? Their water comes from a river dependent source, as well. The Dungenes is the second steepest river in the country. How fast will it drain out?

    With these conditions representing the future of our region, plans HAVE to be made.

    1. The discussion of our water woes here is very interesting. I'm a new visitor here, and my first thought is why aren't we hearing this sort of talk in the Peninsula Daily. This is an issue that will affect every single person and business in Clallam County. How do we, as citizens, help sound the alarm?

    2. Get Cheri out of office.

      She is a dimwit, who thinks she is a mastermind which is a very dangerous combination.

      She is also two-faced, and says idiotic things (in city council meetings) like "I'll support it, no matter what you discuss" (i.e. regarding giving $15thousand dollars to the EDC, before any of it had even been discussed).

      Cheri is a waste of air.

      And what is the deal with an elderly woman wearing false eyelashes? Maybe she should check the calendar. Does she wear spandex, as well as her polyester suits?

      OMG, folks. Really?

      That's who you vote for to represent you?

    3. Yes, Cherie (note the "e" there at the end) is a fool. But can we please do without the blatant sexism? Please? As others have pointed out, we have big problems facing us.


    4. Dear Anon 6:12

      A new visitor here, but if you've lived in the area for any length of time, you know the PDN skews things, or out-right censors comments if they don't go along with their views.

      As you can see recently, they are full-blown city boosters, which compromises their ability to objectively report what is really going on. Pointing out that the city has a serious water problem will give the city a less than positive impression for prospective property buyers ( ever see how much ad space the real estate people have in the paper?), and therefore the PDN won't inform the existing residents of what they face.

      Of course, this is an incredibly short sighted view, as people will be VERY upset when they finally face reality: no water in the late season, and no plans for reservoirs.

      How to get residents to know? Tell every one you know. If you do Face book, post about it. Go to candidate forums, and ask the candidates what they plan to do (although don't expect them to acknowledge there is a problem!). Invite others to check out what is being discussed here.

    5. To be fair, when Kidd was first elected there were much, much worst candidates out there. I forgot who she ran against initially but I'm pretty sure this was during or just after the Karen Rogers era.

  14. Our Chamber of Commerce is a failure. They couldn't promote this city if their lives depended on it.

    Our downtown association is a failure. It was supposed to make money for the city; it lost money for the city.

    The movie theater closed.

    The airport closed.

    Our town of 19,000 is saddled with over $100 million in debt.

    Our schizophrenic city spends $50 million on a Turd Tank on one side of our shoreline, and millions more on a fake beach on the other side.

    Downtown's a ghost town, but the landlords charge top dollar rents nonetheless.

    Meanwhile, what used to be multiple ferry lines have dwindled down to one.

    Our young people, those that don't just drop out of school, leave the area as soon as they're able.

    Meanwhile, generations worth of garbage might fail into the strait.

    Drug abuse and suicide are two of the only "growth" areas locally.

    Now, it looks extremely likely we'll run out of water before summer is over.

    But, by God, we're the best, aren't we? We can take comfort in that. We're the best.

  15. Tens of millions for the Turd Tank. TENS OF MILLIONS.

    And how much spent to protect or expand our ability to access clean, safe water?

    Not to mention fire season.

    These are scary times.

    1. To answer your question, take the number from the first graph above: Zero percent. So far as I can see, that's how much of the city's budget has gone towards protecting our water supply.

  16. I haven't done the research to say this as absolute fact, but I'll go out on a limb and say that what we're seeing in the region has never happened for all the time of Western/European occupation of the Olympic Peninsula. The lack of snow in the Olympics this year.

    There are tons of graphs to look at, if you want, that record the changing, warming climate of the area. Some record the increase in water temps off the Pacific over a span of decades, others record the disappearing glaciers and declining rainfall in the Olympics. They all show that the region's climate is changing, and warming.

    We who live here need to get smart, and plan accordingly.

  17. I think I've found our sister city in Australia... A 48-year-old man stole a bulldozer, smashed four cars and then drove the machine through a house in Teralba, Australia, police say.

    The family living in the home managed to escape with the help of a neighbor and were unharmed, although scared senseless.

    1. No! That's OUR claim to fame! That's the best claim to fame we've had for YEARS! They CAN'T steal that from us!

    2. Does Port Angeles get royalties for this?

  18. To understand how serious this evolving situation is, watch PBS "Running the Gauntlet" on-line. (Google it, it comes up easily)

    As you watch the program, think of all you are seeing, with dry upstream streams, creeks, tributaries and rivers. With all those employed in salmon restoration, conservation, hatchery, fisheries and regulatory positions with no more salmon.

    Think of all the wildlife that are directly, and independently reliant on salmon. In the oceans, in the rivers, and all the way up into the forests. In that program, you will see salmon traveling over 900 miles inland through those now disappearing bodies of water to spawn.

    Towards the end, you will see people with backpacks carrying frozen salmon carcasses, trying to mimic the nutrients salmon bring into the forests from the oceans.

    There has been major effort, and major money spent to try to rebuild the salmon runs. If you don't have knowledge of how critically important this is to the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, make a point of watching that program. (If you can read this post, you can watch the program).

    As the salmon cannot spawn in dry rivers and creeks, they will die off. Then what?

    Ask Cherie, and the other candidates. What do they propose to do? Continue to ignore the problems, as they have for the last number of decades?