BRIDGEPORT — About 25 families who are on a boil water advisory near Bridgeport can now look forward to having clean, drinkable water for the first time in years.
Three water districts in the Bridgeport Bar area have joined together to build a new water system. It will replace aging pipes and old, shallow wells, including one that was hand-dug.
State, federal and county officials have worked with the Greater Bar Water District to develop a plan for the system, offer grants and loans, and declare an emergency so some of the work can be done this fall without a lengthy bid process.
Everyone in the newly formed joint district will get new pipes, meters, valve boxes, wells and a 240,000-gallon gravity-fed water system to serve 100 hook-ups, said Taryn Reidt, a commissioner for the Greater Bar district. A fourth district with 45 hookups may also join, she said.
Bridgeport Bar is located in Douglas County along the Columbia River between Bridgeport and Brewster.
“The ultimate goal of the project is to provide clean, reliable drinking water,” said Eric Smith, project manager with the engineering firm Erlandsen & Associates. “It’s been a long process and we’re in the final stages of the solution.”
The $3.4 million to $3.7 million project is being funded with $2 million in grants and a $2.7 million loan, of which half will be forgiven when the project is complete.
Until now, funding has been a key issue to resolving the problem, since there are too few hookups for residents to pay for such a large capital project.
One district — the Bridgeport Bar Development with 25 hookups — has had the most problems. They’ve been fined by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and people on the system have been warned by the state for the last three or four years not to drink their water.
“No one’s running that system, so the Department of Health goes out, I believe once or twice a year and tests the water. It’s not being treated so it still has coliform” and other contaminants, she said.
Douglas County Commissioner Steve Jenkins said he’s not aware of anyone getting sick from the water. But, “It’s a ticking time bomb,” he said. “We’ve dodged the bullet.”
He said in addition to having clean water, the developments will get enough water pressure for fire flow. “They’ll be able to sell, or put in new houses. I’m really looking forward to completion,” he said.
The project should go out for proposals early next week, he said.
Bar Development isn’t the only one of the four districts that’s had problems, said Reidt.
She said although the Greater Bar district hasn’t had shown any contamination in its water tests, their pipes have started to fail. “Our piping is literally disintegrating. We’ve had three major breaks, and we’re probably averaging around $1,000 a month in repairs,” she said.
Reidt said they plan to get water this fall to the Bar Development, since they have an emergency order not to drink their water.
The rest of the work is expected to be completed next summer, she said.