Protecting Our Water Resources and Water System
The groundwater that you use for drinking and other household purposes comes from aquifers on Tolt Hill that were deposited during the last major glaciation event. These vast multi-thousand feet thick glaciers along with associated streams and lakes deposited inter-layered coarser materials (sand and gravel) glacial sediments that now act as aquifers and also deposited finer grained sediment layers (silts and clays) act as aquitards protecting the underlying aquifers.
It is vital that we protect our groundwater resources for the future. The Water Association is engaged on several major fronts to protect and preserve our important water resource and water system including:
- Protecting the Aquifers from potential contamination or reduction in water Quality / Quantity.
- Protecting our physical Water System from potential contamination, intrusion or cross-contamination.
- Improving the resiliency of our Water System to “survive” man-made and natural disasters
Protecting Our Aquifers
The Ames Lake Water Association uses wells throughout the Association’s Service Area that withdraw water from deeper aquifers in the Tolt Hill area. These aquifers are recharged by precipitation (rain and snow) that falls in the local area (Ames Lake / Tolt Hill Area and Eastern portions of Sammamish Plateau). This precipitation slowly passes through the various sediments until it reaches the aquifer and is eventually withdrawn many decades later or longer by the Association’s production wells. However, as this precipitation flows across the surface and begins it’s decent to the aquifers it may pickup chemicals, solvents or other materials that have been improperly disposed by Homeowners.
The Association has evaluated and developed “Aquifer Capture Zones” for each of the Association’s wells. These computer modeled capture zones were developed by Hydrogeologic Consultants and used to develop Wellhead Protection Areas that have been provided to King County and the Washington Department of Health. These areas are incorporated into the Counties Sensitive Areas designations and are used to inform Emergency Responders, landowners and others.
As we discussed, our aquifers and the groundwater we will drink are recharged by precipitation that falls in our area. This is why it is very important to “Practice Good Housekeeping” and properly dispose of any chemical, fuels, oils and solvents. Please do not dump these materials on the ground.
In addition, old abandoned wells can act as a conduit to more rapidly move potential contaminants to the aquifers. If you have any old wells, please consider properly sealing and abandoning the unused well. If you have a well that you currently use for irrigation or other purposes, please do not store any chemicals, oils or solvents in the well house or in close proximity to the wellhead. In addition, please make sure your well is adequately separated with Backflow Preventers from your home’s water system. Please refer to the section on Backflow Prevention for more information on this topic.
Protecting the Ames Lake Water System
As mentioned above, a very high priority for your Water Association is the protection of your water. This protection incorporates both the protection of the groundwater in the aquifers and maintaining high quality water as it is distributed through the Water Associations water mains and distribution system.
Each year, the Ames Lake Water Association distributes a Consumer Confidence Report that provides additional information on the water produced by the Association and reports on the routine sampling and testing performed by the Association. We work diligently so that you may enjoy very good quality groundwater. Our water is at the low end of the Moderately Hard (70 – 74 mg/L) scale of water hardness. The Standard Water Hardness Scale runs from Soft – Moderately Hard – Hard – Vey Hard. Our groundwater is in the “sweet spot” of water hardness (low Moderately Hard) avoiding the problems of too soft or too hard groundwater.
Many of us have visited or lived in other parts of the United States with differing quality and hardness levels of water and can truly appreciate the great quality water we have at Ames Lake Water Association. We do not add any disinfectant or fluoride to your drinking water. For families with growing children, you may want to consult your family dentist to determine if any fluoride rinses or toothpaste might be suggested. We hope you enjoy our great groundwater.
Protecting the Ames Lake Water System goes beyond just protecting the aquifer and periodic sampling to ensure high quality water. The Water Association as well as Federal and State Agencies take the safety and protection of public water systems very seriously. The Water Association (and other public water systems) has conducted Vulnerability Assessments and developed numerous Emergency Response Plans for a wide variety of potential water system contingencies. We continue to develop our instrumentation of the system and the installation of numerous intrusion alarms and sensors to warn and protect the water system.
However, our best “eyes on the system” are often our Members. Please report any leaks you may notice and any suspicious activities you may observe regarding the water system. We appreciate our Members informing us of these activities and we have discovered numerous leaks and illegal use of our fire hydrants through these reports from our members. This is your Water System and we appreciate your involvement!
Improving the Ames Lake Water System Resiliency
Ames Lake Water Association and many of the water utilities throughout the Puget Sound region are working hard to improve water system reliability in the event of natural and man-made disasters. We all want our water to be there for us 24/7, 365 days each year and the Water Association works hard to achieve that goal. However, we all know that we live in earthquake country. And in addition to earthquakes, there are a number of potential situations ranging from volcanic activity to forest fires and longer-term power outages that can impact our way of life and the operation of all utilities and services in our region.
The Association has worked diligently over the past several years to better “harden” our system, provide back-up propane fueled generators at a number of our critical sites, and develop capacities to efficiently move water back and forth from the northern and southern portions of our Service Area in the event of well or system failures. We are moving forward in the near future to develop earthquake resilient facilities for the Association’s office and field operations with full generator backup capability and improved spare parts inventory to ensure full operations during sustained power outages / emergencies. We are dedicated to moving forward to improve the Water System’s resiliency and reliability to provide water for domestic use and fire fighting capacity in the event of a natural or man-made disaster in our region.
However, you are an important part of this preparation and the water Association wants to strongly encourage each of our Members to improve their resiliency and emergency preparedness. State and Federal Emergency Response Agencies NOW Recommend that you have Emergency Supplies for TWO to THREE WEEKS to meet your family needs. Please take steps as you are able to improve your families supplies and equipment. There are numerous resources on the web to help you and your family prepare for potential emergencies.