Closeup shot of a person pouring a glass of fresh water from a kitchen faucet

Public notification of drinking water issues is essential to educate the public, protect public health, and build trust with consumers through open and honest sharing of information. One of the best ways to earn the communities trust in West Richland’s commitment to delivering safe and reliable drinking water is to ensure people within the service area are provided with timely public notification about any potential issues, what is causing the issue and most importantly what is being done to correct the issue.

Over the last three weeks, residents have intermittently encountered discolored water. While city staff has responded to mitigate the aesthetic issue, several residents still had concerns with the issue and directly contacted the Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water.

The Department of Health confirmed that the city’s potable water is safe to drink. If you experience discoloration of the water, we recommend that you wait until it clears before drinking it. Naturally occurring minerals (primarily iron and manganese) flowing with the water are typically to blame for water discoloration. These minerals, which are heavier than water, settle in the water mains when water usage is low (typically during winter months). When the water flow increases or changes directions, the minerals are stirred up in the city’s water mains and flows out of the faucets in your home.

The discolored water intermittently experienced has primarily occurring in residential neighborhoods along Belmont Blvd, Paradise Way, S. 58th Ave and Collins Road as these neighborhoods are located between the water reservoir on Flat Top Hill and the city’s three largest groundwater wells on Ruppert Road (Well #7, #9 and new Well #11). A combination of Well #9 turning on the week of March 29th, Well #7 turning on the week of April 5th, and the city’s new Well #11 being turned on the week of April 12th to meet increased water demands stirred up the iron and manganese deposits. There were also other factors that contributed to the discolored water such as large amounts of water being used in new developments for dust control associated with several recent wind storms and a water main break on Ironton Drive.

What is the city doing to mitigate the discolored water situation?
The city’s public works maintenance crew continues to flush water mains and residents service lines to flush out the iron and manganese mineral deposits. The city has also revised the programming of the water system’s telemetry system, which turns on and off the wells based on reservoir levels, so that Well #7, #9 and #11 do not turn on or off at the same time. The city has also worked with the owners of the new developments to use irrigation water, when available, rather than city water for dust control.

What should I do if I experience discolored water?
Try running the cold water for a few minutes to see if it the water clears or if it is still discolored. If the water does not clear and is still discolored please contact the city at (509)967-5434 press 1 to select emergency (this is also the after-hours water and sewer emergency number). City employees are available 24/7 to respond to these types of issues. An employee from the city’s maintenance department will be dispatched so that the issue can be mitigated in a timely manner. The City has limited staff and does not monitor the various social media sites. Please contact us, don’t assume your neighbor will call. Give us the opportunity to provide you with excellent customer service.

What is the city doing to improve public notification?
The city recently upgraded our utility billing software that will allow city staff to provide timely public notifications including information about the water system via email and or texts in addition to the city’s website and Facebook page. Additional staff training is being scheduled to fully utilize the new software’s notification tool. Residents will need to ensure that the city’s utility billing staff have current email addresses and cell phone numbers. Look for more information in a future utility bill insert.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at roscoe@westrichland.org or at (509) 967-5434

Sincerely,

Roscoe Slade
Public Works Director