0508 water awards

The City of Anacortes was honored Monday by the state Department of Health for water quality and technological innovation. From left, Jeff Marrs, Anacortes Water Treatment Plant operations manager; Bob James, regional manager of the state Health Department’s Office of Drinking Water; Mayor Laurie Gere; and city Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer. (Richard Walker / Anacortes American)

That water coming out of Anacortes taps is some of the best in Washington.

So says the state Department of Health, which on Monday gave the City of Anacortes two awards — one for water cleanliness, another for technological innovation. The presentations at the City Council meeting coincided with National Drinking Water Week.

The city received an award for Most Innovative Water Treatment Plant in the state for 2018 for its use of active water transmission lines to move fiber optic cable from the water treatment plant in Mount Vernon to other utilities in the city. This portion of what will eventually be a citywide fiber optic network will make possible the remote monitoring of substations and their equipment.

Using water transmission lines eliminated the need to excavate trenches for that portion of fiber optic cable installation and is a method commonly used in Europe. According to Jim Lemberg, the city’s broadband business manager, Anacortes’ use of the method is a first in North America.

“Water Distribution Lead Brent Christensen and his crew researched and adjusted the design, then successfully installed the new technology,” an announcement from the state Department of Health stated.

Bob James, regional manager of the health department’s Office of Drinking Water, presented a blue waterdrop-shaped glass trophy to the mayor and water department staff members, then stepped back up to the microphone.

“We’re not done yet,” he said, noting that the city was also the recipient of the state’s Water Treatment Plant Optimization Award.

“We look at systems and we set the bar well above just the minimal drinking water standard and we encourage our water treatment plants to operate in a fashion that meets that higher bar … For three years now, (Anacortes has) met that high level of achievement,” James said.

The City of Anacortes has the right to 54 million gallons a day from the Skagit River but typically draws 20 million gallons a day, city Finance Director Steve Hoglund said in an earlier interview. In addition to providing water for residents and businesses within the city limits, the city sells water at a wholesale rate to Skagit Public Utility District, the Town of La Conner, the Swinomish Tribe and the City of Oak Harbor, who in turn sell water to their residential and commercial customers at locally set rates.

The city uses rapid rate filters to remove particles that could contain microbial contaminants. Office of Drinking Water staff members review the turbidity, sedimentation and disinfection data submitted by all water systems on their monthly operations reports to ensure compliance with regulations.

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