Water drain - stock

There were no pitchforks or angry balled fists, no hurricanes of shouts.

No, Longview’s water committee rather politely told the City Council on Thursday night: “It’s your turn.”

The group tasked with finding a way to improve the city’s tap water gave its long-awaited recommendation: Get the city’s water from the Cowlitz River via riverbed Ranney wells.

It was the most sparsely attended water committee event since the group formed in January to tackle taste, smell and silica residue concerns brought on by the Mint Farm wells.

Only six of the group’s 14 members were at the Council and Beacon Hill Water and Sewer District workshop, and just one spoke.

The group instead let its work speak for itself through a presentation of what led to the recommendation and what comes next.

Installing Ranney wells could cost between $30 million and $55 million — a rate hike of $5 to $13 — and take three to five years or longer to come online.

Of the three options presented to Council, the least expensive takes the longest, and the most expensive could have Cowlitz River water running through city taps as early as 2019.

One resident said he supports the middle-ground option, with a range of estimated prices and the possibility of using the existing treatment plant.

“I think the idea of sending water to the Mint Farm (for treatment) is a good one,” said Steve Powell, who attended most of the committee’s meetings.

Water from Mint Farm wells, which came online early in 2013, has always met health and safety standards.

But silica — a harmless mineral present in higher levels from the Mint Farm wells than the Cowlitz River — has brought indirect costs to many customers the committee couldn’t ignore.

Ruined dishes and dishwashers and the need for some to buy bottled water were on the committee’s list of concerns up there with health and purity.

The Ranney wells will likely get rid of the silica problem, though the water will not be identical to the surface water the city long enjoyed.

It could be similar to Kelso’s water — the city has had a Ranney well on the Cowlitz for decades.

With the committee’s work finished, then, it’s on the Council to decide if any of this will happen at all.

The next step would be to approve a roughly $300,000 feasibility study to find out where the wells should go along the river.

That could happen as soon as next Thursday’s 7 p.m. Council meeting.

Council members will also decide if they want to pursue an $87,000 study on interim improvements to the Mint Farm system. None of the fixes would address silica.

The Council last fall shot down one of the proposed fixes, adding dissolved oxygen to help with water age and thus smell and taste issues at the cost of $350,000.

Beacon Hill commissioners will be on hand in an expected quorum at Thursday’s meeting to participate in discussions, as the water system is 15 percent owned by the district.

Contact Daily News reporter Brooks Johnson at 360-577-7828 or bjohnson@tdn.com.

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