Public Utilities

Public Utilities

Joseph Keeler started the Sequim Light and Power Company with one gas-powered generator. As nearby businesses wanted power, he would run a line to their buildings and give them power. There wasn't enough power in the generator to give everyone electricity, but it sufficed until the Elwha Dam was built in 1914-1915 and lines were run to substations on the Peninsula. In 1925, the Sequim Light and Power Company was sold to Puget Sound Power and Light and Keeler was appointed District Manager. Later the power systems in Clallam County became part of a Public Utility District.

When Keeler dug his well and built a water tower to provide water for the hotel, neighbors asked for water and he ran pipes to their homes and businesses. Other developers in the small town built water towers for their additions, but most residents relied on their own small wells. The water table on the prairie had risen measurably with the open irrigation ditches and water was more plentiful than it had been when the first settlers arrived.

In 1922, the town purchased Keeler's water system. In addition to wells, water flowed from small springs on the prairie. Seven years later bonds were issued to extend the system to secure a water supply from the Dungeness River. A wooden pipeline from the river was built to a reservoir on the hill above town. The water system was entirely gravity fed from its source in the Dungeness River to the reservoir and into town. In the 1970's a well field southwest of town off River Road was developed. In the 1990's a second well field was developed beside Port Williams Road.

In the beginning every home and business had its own privy or outhouse. Hotels furnished slop jars emptied daily by staff. Some homes and businesses eventually built septic systems and had indoor toilets. A small local sewer system was installed in some parts of town. As houses in town crowded together, some systems began to fail and during the hot summer months people complained about the stench.

In 1934 the Town Council passed a law that required all homes in town to have indoor toilets. In 1936 the Town sewer system was built with the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The project was financed by bonds which paid for pipes and supplies; the WPA workers performed the work. The main trunk line ran from the southwest corner of Town eastward toward Washington Harbor. Several miles of main and lateral lines were built, feeding into the main trunk line at the intersection of Fir Street and Sequim-Dungeness Way. A water treatment plant was built and treated water was emptied into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Additions were made to the lines and the treatment plant as the Town expanded. In the last decade of the twentieth century, lengthy litigation involving environmental issues slowed development of an improved water treatment system and longer outfall pipes.