Fire gives gorge city longterm water threat

first_imgTHE DALLES, Ore. — Residents of The Dalles have detected smoky notes in their drinking water during recent wildfires, but the water is safe, city officials said. And thanks to round-the-clock work, crews protected the city water plant from flames that turned the soil black right down to a nearby creek.But fire has created a longer-term threat to the water supply for the city of more than 14,000 at the east end of the Columbia Gorge: the potential for fall and winter rains to wash rivers of silt from the bare earth into the water headed for the treatment plant.It wouldn’t be the first time. A fire in 1967 ripped through the watershed where surface water is collected behind a dam and then treated for consumption.That was followed by heavy rains and so much ash, silt and sediment flowing into the treatment plant that it had to shut down “for an extended period of time,” said Dave Anderson, the city’s public works director.The city planted grass to stabilize the ground, Anderson told The Dalles Chronicle, but “we were still seeing water quality impacts during heavy rain events 20 years later.”last_img read more