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Jesus Espinoza with the city of Cashmere wipes his brow as he helps shovel dried organic material from the bottom of one of two city water ponds on Monday.

CASHMERE — City employees cleaned the water ponds Monday working to keep the city’s reputation as having the best-tasting water in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2011 the city of Cashmere was named the best tasting water in the Pacific Northwest by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the American Water Works Association, Cashmere Mayor Jim Fletcher said. It competed against cities in Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

“I think it is pretty darn clean because it is coming off the mountain and there is very little activity north of us,” Fletcher said.

The water ponds were first built in the early 1990s, said Bruce Germain, Cashmere water and waste water foreman. The last time the ponds were cleared of sediment was seven years ago, but in the past they’ve been cleaned every other year.

“We started being real diligent about keeping clean water coming into the place,” Germain said. “So if the river is dirty we don’t bring it in, which makes a big difference.”

The water that residents of Cashmere drink comes from the Wenatchee River, Fletcher said. The water ponds filter the water down through the sediment. It is then chlorinated and pumped up into the city’s reservoirs on Cedar Street and Kennedy Road.

“If you think about a beach with a layer of sand there is a certain thickness to it,” Fletcher said. “But the water percolates down through that sand. So the top layer of that sand collects a lot of sediment, dirt.”

The crews can’t use large or heavy equipment to remove the grime that collects there, he said. It could compact the sand and prevent the water for draining down.

It took about 13 people working 158 hours over two days to scrape the ponds, Germain said. The city hired five temporary people to assist them with the work and in the end 13 truckloads of dirt were removed and four loads of sand.

The city will then measure the remaining sand and make sure it is deep enough, he said. The state Department of Health requires 19 inches of sand for city pools.

Environment, county and health reporter

Tony Buhr has been a professional reporter for almost seven years. He worked for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin as a cops and courts reporter. The Ellensburg Daily Records as a cops and courts, breaking news, agriculture and water reporter.