PORT ORCHARD — A long-awaited retrofit project for the City of Port Orchard’s Well No. 9 at Van Zee Park has necessitated the closure of the recreational space until next May.
So while the park at 300 Tremont St. — home to a nine-hole disc golf course and a favorite snow-sledding hill in winter — will remain silent during much of its busiest times because of the necessary engineering fix, neighboring residents who have suffered through rust-colored water originating from the well will finally find relief from occasionally discolored laundry loads.
Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard’s city engineer and public works director, said the retrofit project costing $1.838 million will finally resolve a vexing problem plaguing the well — and shared by many of the Tremont area residents served by the well.
Dorsey said the retrofit project will include installation of a filter building, filtration system, a distilling basin to filter out hydrogen sulfide and remove built-up iron manganese through a pollucite pyrolusite filtration system. A previous water treatment project completed during 2012-13 failed to eliminate the issue characterized by water flow appearing brownish in color. It was enough of a problem for residents whose washed clothing was discolored that Dorsey and other city officials regularly received phone and email complaints from irate customers.
“It’s an aesthetic issue,” Dorsey said of the water discoloration, not a safety and health problem. “It’s safe to drink. But people are paying good money for their water. I don’t like getting emails or having people drop by samples and saying, ‘… And I pay for this?’”
The complaints about water quality aren’t new. Dorsey said residents in the Tremont-Sidney-Pottery areas complained to the city when he first started work in Port Orchard 10 years ago.
“We’ve been working on it diligently and this [project] really is the final solution for all of our groundwater sources,” Dorsey said.
“To get rid of hydrogen sulfide, you just aerate it. That’s a taste and odor thing that’s easily rectified. Iron manganese is a bit more difficult to get out. The standard process for that removal is a backwash filtration system that we’re now implementing.”
The city’s first attempt to fix the issue in 2012 and 2013 wasn’t successful, Dorsey said, but this retrofit project now underway by the lowest bidder, JMG Constructors LLC, is using a proven industry standard filtration system with new pumping hardware being installed.
The retrofit project is the first of three new filtration systems that will be installed at newer and future city wells to deal with iron manganese.
The first of the filtration systems will be installed at a new water source near Fred Meyer — Well No. 13 — that is to begin construction soon. Also in the design phase is Well No. 12, which will serve the McCormick Woods area.
“Those are the city’s primary future water sources,” Dorsey said. “The older artesian wells the city has had for years are going to be decommissioned when these new deep aquifer wells are online. There will be no reason to retrofit wells 6 or 7 for that reason.”