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Water Supply

Prior to 1960 the peninsula, now occupied by the City of Ocean Shores, was a cattle ranch, and long before that, was used by the Chinook, Chehalis, and Quinault Tribes for trading and other purposes. In 1960 a group of investors purchased the land and created what was then known as Ocean Shores Estates, Inc. These investors began to develop the newly acquired property as a resort area and retirement community. To attract future residents, the developers dredged the low sections and wetlands of the peninsula to form lakes and canals, platted the area, laid out a golf course, and began selling lots.

The water system’s mains were constructed as part of a series of ULID (Utility Local Improvement Districts) from 1960 to 1979. The development of the system progressed generally from the north to the south of the peninsula. As the standards of practice changed over the years, the size of the mains installed also changed. The mains at the northern end of the City consist mainly of 6-inch and 8-inch pipes. As more recent projects proceeded southward through the peninsula, larger mains were constructed.

At the time of initial development in 1960, water systems were designed and constructed for Utility Local Improvement Divisions 1 and 2. The water for this early system was obtained from a groundwater well located in the northeastern part of the City, near where the airport is located today. In 1963, Grays Harbor Water District #3 was formed and the first comprehensive water system plan was developed to address water service to Divisions 1 through 9 of the rapidly growing community. With this plan in place, the Water District obtained the system from the developers in 1965 and 1966. Well 1 was drilled and the original source of supply was abandoned. In 1968 Well 2 was drilled to increase source production. When the City was incorporated in 1970, it contained a population of 768 full-time residents. The water system was assumed by the City shortly after incorporation.

The City’s first water treatment plant (TP 1) was constructed in 1971 to remove iron and manganese from Wells 1 and 2, which are supplied from a deep aquifer in the area. In 1972, additions to the comprehensive plan (Whitacre Engineers, 1972) were published and included a plan for providing water service to the remainder of the City and recommendations for improvements to the developer-installed water system. The extension of the water distribution system to all areas of the City was completed about 1980, 20 years after the initial development. A well-planned pipeline grid resulted and since that time very few main additions in the interior of the service area have been required. Two storage tanks (North and South Storage tanks) were constructed in 1979 to add two million gallons (MG) of storage to the system and assist with system pressures and fire flow. In 1980 the comprehensive plan was again updated and identified further source and distribution system improvements. Well 3 added another source of supply from the deep aquifer in 1982.

In 1988 the water system plan was again updated with provisions for exploring a shallow aquifer as an additional source of supply. During the investigation of the shallow aquifer, several piezometers were installed to evaluate the feasibility of this alternative; in 1989 the new supply was tapped with the drilling of Well 4 (shallow aquifer). Wells 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,  13 and 14 (shallow aquifer) have since been constructed to serve the growing population of the City.

A second treatment plant (TP 2) was constructed in 1997 to treat water from the shallow aquifer and help meet rising water demand in the City, which by 2000 had grown to 3,836 residents (an increase of 85% since 1988). To optimize treatment of water from the shallow aquifer during the first four years of operating TP 2, deep aquifer water from Wells 1, 2, and 3 was blended with the water from Well 4 to make up the raw water feed to TP 2.

In 2001 the 3.0 MG tank was constructed to accommodate the City’s anticipated storage requirement at full development. Shallow aquifer Wells 11, 12, and 13 were also constructed in 2001 to supplement the production from Well 4, but were not brought on line immediately pending completion of a Wellhead Protection Plan and approval by DOH.

By 2003, the City’s population had increased to 4,065 with fewer than 30% of the lots developed. In the summer of 2004, Wells 2 and 3 were rehabilitated, which increased capacity by 10-15% for each well. While these efforts were underway, plans were developed for several new wells under a water rights transfer application that established a wellfield for withdrawing from the shallow aquifer under an arrangement with the Department of Ecology (DOE) that was finalized in 2008. Upon completion of the Wellhead Protection Plan in 2006, Wells 9, 11, 12, and 13 were approved for production by the Department of Health. Well 5 was abandoned and backfilled, which was based on the assumption that the City would not be able to treat the well due to its high organic content (over 300 color units). Wells 6, 7, and 8 have high iron content and are low-producing wells.

The addition of Wells 11, 12, and 13 meant supply needs could be met solely by the shallow aquifer; therefore, the blending of shallow and deep aquifer water was no longer required, eliminating the need for separate treatment systems. In 2010 TP 2 underwent a significant upgrade to increase capacity to 2.0 MGD and provide treatment technology suitable for the shallow aquifer water. At the same time, Wells 9, 11, 12, and 13 from the shallow aquifer were fully developed and brought into production. The City’s original deep aquifer wells (Wells 1, 2, and 3) have been retained as a backup source for the shallow aquifer wells, and were intended to function as a separate treatment train in event of an emergency situation. The upgraded TP 2 was brought online in May 2011.
Aquifers And Wells
Our water comes from underground aquifers - porous rock formations below the ground that "hold" water. These aquifers are replenished by rain and snow as it infiltrates through the ground, is filtered by the soil and cleaned by the trillions of microbes that work hard to clean our water in a natural way. The many layers of soil, rock and microbes that sit above the aquifers act to cleanse the water as it passes and helps prevent contamination from the surface.

Water supply is obtained from one of two distinct aquifers (deep and shallow) through a variety of groundwater wells. Three wells (Wells 1, 2, and 3) are able to withdraw from a deep aquifer if necessary. The deep aquifer is located at a depth of just over 500 feet, where the water is pumped from a 20-foot thick layer of permeable gravel. Five primary wells (Wells 4, 9, 11, 13, and 14) withdraw from the shallow aquifer located between 50 and 100 feet below the surface and consists of a layer of coarse sand and pea gravel up to 40 feet in thickness. All wells are located on City-owned property; all active wells are currently located at the City’s primary water system facility site.

The groundwater wells operate under permission granted by the Department of Ecology through the City’s water rights. In 2006, the City applied for a change of water right to allow for the transfer of the City’s Surface Water Permit No. 13475 for the Humptulips River to a new groundwater water right (G2-30311) in the shallow aquifer. The new permit grants the City permission to withdraw water from three designated shallow wellfields located throughout the City.

When the new Treatment Plant 2) was brought online in May 2011, Wells 1, 2, and 3 (deep aquifer) ceased active production, and Wells 4, 9, 11, 12, and 13 (shallow aquifer) became primary sources, operating year round and scaling up production at all wells during summer peak periods. The table below provides an overview of the various wells currently or historically maintained by the City, including the maximum pump capacity and the highest recorded Maximum Day Demand average flow over an six year period (2005-2011).
Well Inventory

Well 1 1966 Deep,
513 10 350 Yes,
Well 2 1968 Deep,
513 10 700 Yes,
Well 3 1982 Deep,
525 16 600 Yes,
Well 4 1989 Shallow,
95 8 400 Yes 251
Well 5 1993 Shallow 95 8 600 No -
Well 6 1996 Shallow 55 8 100 No -
Well 7 1996 Shallow 55 8 100 No -
Well 8 1996 Shallow 55 8 100 No -
Well 9 2000 Shallow,
84 8 400 Yes 367
Well 10 1997 Shallow 75 8 - No -
Well 11 2001 Shallow,
98 8 350 Yes 263
Well 12 2001 Shallow,
98 8 150 Yes 92
Well 13 2001 Shallow,
98 8 400 Yes 446
Well 14 2016 Shallow,
?? ?? ?? Yes ??