Union River Reservoir provides 60 percent of the drinking water for more than 50,000 customers of the City of Bremerton Water Utility.                                Courtesy of Kathleen Cahall / City of Bremerton

Union River Reservoir provides 60 percent of the drinking water for more than 50,000 customers of the City of Bremerton Water Utility. Courtesy of Kathleen Cahall / City of Bremerton

City of Bremerton Water receives national award for source water protection

BREMERTON — As Bremerton marks the 100th anniversary of its city water department, the utility received an award for exemplary source water protection from the American Water Works Association.

“It’s a very nice verification that our approach to watershed protection has met with the highest standards held by the AWWA,” said Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager.

She added, “This award comes at a really special time for us as well, to be able to be recognized for our approach to water (that has been in effect for 100 years) …

“This award recognizes that long-term commitment that the city has had to quality water.”

According to an announcement of the award March 2, the city’s water managers “recognized from the beginning that protecting drinking water at its source is the most responsible and economical approach, by locating surface water and groundwater sources away from the impact of development and purchasing water resource lands long before they were utilized for a drinking water supply.”

The American Water Works Association, or AWWA, was established in 1881 and is the largest nonprofit scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water.

The award is a competitive one, Cahall said, and has a very extensive application process.

An award recipient must demonstrate that its source water protection program is successful in several areas, including vision and stakeholder involvement, goals, action plan, and evaluation and revision.

Cahall said that while the department has received AWWA awards in the past, for specific projects, this is their “first award for the system as a whole,” at least in the 25 years she’s been with the department.

One thing she said makes their system unique is the fact that the source water is unfiltered.

“It’s something really special to Bremerton,” Cahall said. “We do not have a filtration plant. Because our watershed is so well protected, it acts as our filtration plant, so to speak.”

She said that all they have to do is disinfect the water, which saves the department and the ratepayers money.

Bremerton will be awarded a plaque at the AWWA annual conference in June in Philadelphia.

Cahall said applying for these awards and being longtime members of the AWWA is “how we provide the best water quality that we can.”

“The standards set by the AWWA gives us the guidelines to help us know we can meet the highest standards and provide that really fabulous water quality,” Cahall said.

Michelle Beahm is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

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