The City of Brookings will received $30,000 from the Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD) to evaluate the impacts of the Chetco Bar Fire on the City’s water system and develop a mitigation plan.
The grant award was recommended by the Oregon Health Authority after the City expressed concern about the potential impacts on the City’s water quality from substantial increases in erosion in the watershed occurring over the next several years projected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
“We became very concerned as the Chetco Bar Fire consumed about 70 per cent of the watershed serving the City’s sole source of water supply,” City Manager Gary Milliman said. “We also received the report from BLM that sediment in the north fork of the Chetco River could increase by 900 per cent.”
Milliman said the City will be using the grant funds to retain the services of a hydrogeologist, geomorphologist and water quality laboratory to assess water quality in the City’s source water and potential treatment impacts. The work will include water quality sampling and analysis, and reviewing the performance of the City’s Ranney collector system.
The work will include using the results of the data collection to identify any further analysis needs and mitigation actions needed to protect the City’s water source.
A “Water System Response and Protection Plan” will also be developed.
“The information gathered will provide information that we can use in pursuing additional mitigation work on federal lands impacted by the fire,” Milliman said. “But the main goal is to gain an understanding about the impact of the fire and subsequent erosion on the City’s water system and what we need to do to protect it.”
Milliman noted that the quality of water taken from the City’s source has typically been high. “We rarely need to use the water treatment plant to filter out turbidity or contaminants,” Milliman said. “While we want to keep it that way, we also need to know what treatment techniques we may need to use.”
The OBDD grant award is the first of three grant applications the City has submitted to fund post-fire activities. The City is also seeking funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development to fund an economic impact analysis and recovery plan.