Water deliveries begin at Crater Lake
Water deliveries to Crater Lake started this week. The park needs more water until lines from a new well can be laid after the snow melts.
Posted at 5:07 PMUpdated at 5:07 PM
By Lee Juillerat for the Mail Tribune
Deliveries of water to Crater Lake National Park for use by visitors and park residents began Tuesday morning.
Kirsten Hardin, the park’s chief of facility management, said test results received Tuesday morning confirmed the water quality is good for consumption. The delivery of water from the city of Chiloquin — 36,000 gallons a day — began shortly afterward.
The water is being delivered to four temporary water tanks, piped to a water treatment station, then piped to the park’s three permanent holding tanks.
“We’re ready to go,” Hardin said of the project. For May and June, the cost of hauling the water, which is being done by Action Sanitary of Lower Lake, California, is projected at nearly $400,000, while the cost of buying water from the city of Chiloquin is more than $37,000.
Hardin said it’s been a multistep process to provide the park with water. The two tanker-trucks hauling water from Chiloquin were tested Friday to ensure there is no harmful bacteria. After Friday’s negative results, a second test was done Monday to verify that the new tanks were bacteria-free.
What to expect
Crater Lake National Park officials note the large trucks hauling water to the park drive very slowly up Highway 62 from Fort Klamath to the park because of their weight. Each truck is carrying 52,000 pounds of water and are sometimes limited to speeds as low as 20 mph.
“They will try and pull off the road to let people pass, but this might not always be possible,” cautioned Kirsten Hardin, the park’s chief of facility management. “Please slow down and allow space between you and the trucks so that they can see you.”
In addition, the North Entrance Road at Crater Lake National Park is unlikely to be open by Memorial Day.
“It’s going slowly,” Hardin says of snow-clearing operations.
Along with higher-than-normal snowfall — the park has received more than 570 inches this winter, above the 523-inch average — efforts have been hampered by ongoing snowstorms and equipment breakdowns.
As of Tuesday, crews had cleared Rim Drive from Rim Village to Discovery Point, a distance of only about a mile.
In recent years, the North Entrance, which provides easy connections with Highway 97, has been open by or before Memorial Day. Park visitation significantly increases when the North Entrance is open.
“We worked hard to get the tank farm set up, plumbed and water delivered to the tanks,” Hardin said. “There were many hurdles to overcome to make this happen. There were multiple steps to ensure that the water is safe for our consumption.”
The park needs an alternative water source because of the Klamath Tribes’ call on water earlier this month. Annie Creek, which normally supplies the park’s water, is a tributary of the Wood River and Upper Klamath Lake watershed affected by the call.
Because of previous water-shortage concerns, park officials began efforts in 2013 to develop a well and a system for an alternative source of water. By this fall, water from a new, previously drilled park well will be transferred to water storage tanks. Because of this winter’s heavy snow — the park received more than 570 inches — digging a permanent pipeline between the well and holding tanks cannot be done immediately.
“We do have a contract in place to put our well online this summer,” Hardin said. “We are working with this contractor on installing a temporary tank, generator and overland piping from the well to Annie Creek Pumphouse. We hope to have this in process by the end of June.”
Hardin and Marsha McCabe, the park’s public affairs officer, said the temporary overland piping will be laid across the snow from the well to the treatment pumphouse until the permanent line can be buried.
McCabe and Hardin emphasized the water, being taken from Chiloquin fire hydrants, is potable water. Chiloquin does not chlorinate its water, something the park is required to do by National Park Service regulations.
The water hauling and testing process began Friday after plumbing for the temporary tanks was completed. Each of the two water trucks deposited 6,000 gallons of water in two tanks. Samples from both trucks were tested for harmful bacteria, with both being negative.
On Saturday, after the four temporary tanks were filled with 20,000 gallons of water, chlorine was added to kill any harmful bacteria. After waiting 24 hours to complete the “shocking,” the tanks were emptied. On Monday, the tanks were refilled with 20,000 gallons of water and final bacteria tests were done.
During the trucking, the two trucks will transport water from Chiloquin to the park’s temporary water tanks. The water will go through the park’s water treatment pumphouse.
McCabe said the park typically uses about 36,000 gallons a day in May, with use increasing as summer visitation spikes, especially in July and August.
Hardin said the park has three permanent tanks with about 500,000 gallons of storage. She said the water comes in at the Annie Springs pumphouse and is pumped to the Mazama Tank and the Munson Tank. Water from the Munson Tank is pumped up to the Garfield Tank. The Mazama Tank supplies the Annie Creek Restaurant, Mazama Campground, Mazama Cabins and Xanterria dorms. The Munson Tank at park headquarters supplies Park Service housing and headquarters buildings. The Garfield Tank supplies the Rim Village area.