Surface Water Management
Where Water is Wealth
Sequim's annual Irrigation Festival reminds us of the value of water!
A healthy supply of water has always been of great value to the local community’s economy and well being. Sequim recognized that “water is wealth” when pioneers built the first irrigation ditches before the turn of the 20th century. Now, as the 21st century is well underway, we have learned how truly vital--and scarce--water can be for salmon returning to spawn in the Dungeness River in late summer, and for farmers needing to irrigate during low snow-pack years.
Within the City we have several water amenities enhancing our quality of life: Bell Creek--which can be enjoyed at Gebhardt Zwicker Trail Park behind QFC, throughout Carrie Blake Park, and at the creek's canyon at Gerhardt Park on South 3rd Avenue; the Keeler Park wetlands; Johnson Creek beach at John Wayne marina; and the Haller Playfields, irrigated with reclaimed water.
We also enjoy the murmur of precious irrigation water carried from the Dungeness River in ditches and canals to farms and ranches all summer. These same ditches carry stormwater in the rainy season, mostly from County lands in the watershed uphill of the City limits. Thankfully, stormwater is mostly absorbed by our gravelly soils to recharge the groundwater system.
City staff contributes a column on water resource management for the Dungeness watershed each month to the Sequim Gazette called "Water Matters." All past columns can be found at watercolumnsite.wordpress.com .
Rainwater Capture is good housekeeping!
Minor flooding is a nuisance when driving around but other concerns are less visible, such as poor water quality, reduced resilience and inefficiencies. “Good housekeeping” on a city-scale means protecting and conserving water supplies for the benefit of the community and the environment. This involves outreach to residents and compliance with federal and state stormwater regulations designed to ensure that public resources are safeguarded: excellent water quality in streams, bays and aquifers, and habitat for salmon and other wildlife.
Since 2013, the City has produced the "Stormwater Management Needs Assessment" and adopted its first Storm and Surface Water Master Plan. Find more information on the "Stormwater Stewardship Project" webpage (tab on the left). Through planning, the City has positioned itself well to negotiate water quality permit requirements with state agencies when the time comes.
The City is quickly learning how important it is to capture runoff before it flows to the sea, so it may replenish aquifers, springs, and water supplies in general. Stormwater management regulations are one way, and storage of that captured water in a reservoir is another way. The Dungeness Off-Channel Reservoir proposal will conserve water resources in more ways than one. Follow the link to learn more about this innovative plan.
Photo / Video Gallery
- "City Habitats" - graphical tour of stormwater in the landscape (Courtesy The Nature Conservancy)
- "But it doesn't rain in Sequim!" - video on YouTube (4:30 min.)
- Reclaimed Water Drought-Relief Project - video on YouTube (2:20 min.)
- Sequim's Water Cycle: A Story Map - a virtual tour of Sequim's water resources (Thanks to volunteer Mark Williams for this creative project!)
- Where Water is Wealth ...the rest of the story (PDF) - slideshow from Science Café, February 2015
- Flooding at Carrie Blake Park on January 5th, 2015 - Google slideshow
- Stormwater Stewardship in Sequim - a narrated slideshow (~22 min.)
- Finding Fish: Fieldwork in Sequim-area Creeks - video on YouTube (7 min.)
Reports & Studies
- Groundwater levels in the Sequim-Dungeness area ("Hydrologic Monitoring Report," PGG 2009) (PDF)
- 2015 Surface Water Flow Monitoring Report (2016) (PDF)
Opportunities for Public Involvement
- The Bell Creek Discovery Tour was launched on Earth Day 2015, to increase awareness of our home-town stream. View complete information.
- The City's Interpretive Center at the Water Reuse Demonstration Site (500 N Blake Avenue at east end of Fir Street) has displays and videos on Bell Creek, "Low Impact Development" methods for managing stormwater (including rain gardens), and many other topics. The Center is open by appointment only - please click on the link to confirm current operating hours.
- Volunteers are welcome! The application and information may be found on the City's VOLUNTEER webpage (see link on Home Page).
Also feel free to contact Ann Soule, Resource Manager with Sequim Public Works, for more information, at 360-582-2436 or email Ann Soule.