Government Flats Complex Fires Cause Worry About Dalles Water Supply

By David Nogueras

Fire managers expect the Government Flats Complex will be 90 percent contained by Thursday. But for the city of The Dalles, those fires have created problems for the city's water supply that could last for years.

Nearly all the city's drinking water comes from its municipal watershed. But nearly a quarter of those lands burned in the fires.

Last week, residents began to notice their water tasted and smelled a bit smoky.

Dave Anderson is the Public Works Director for The Dalles. He says the city was able to fix that problem through treatment and blending.

Dave Anderson: "We won't put unsafe water into the system. If the water in the creek gets to the point where it's beyond our ability to treat it, we'll take it offline.

The worry now is that autumn rains could wash sediment into the creek and overwhelm the system. Anderson says workers have already begun rehabilitating fire lines to prevent erosion. The city is also working on a plan to stabilize the soils by planting grass seed. But Anderson says the rains usually begin in mid-September and the clock is ticking.

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