Kapowsin Water District Receivership
24-Hour Water Emergency
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department share responsibility for ensuring safe and reliable drinking water. When a water system fails to do this and has exhausted all reasonable outlets for returning to compliance, DOH may request the court to appoint a receiver to operate the water system.
Pierce County was appointed to be the receiver of the Kapowsin Water District (KWD) on Nov. 29, 2017 after a failed water transmission line required the trucking of water to the 40 residential customers of the water system while repairs were made.
Pierce County's goal is to provide the Kapowsin Water District customers with safe and reliable drinking water. Currently, Pierce County is pursuing a new well as a long-term potable water source.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Pierce County submitted a jointly prepared Plan for Disposition (Plan) and appeared before the Pierce County Superior Court. The Plan details five elements that must be met to end the receivership and return the system, including management and operations, back to the Kapowsin Water District Board of Commissioners. The Plan was approved at the court hearing, allowing DOH and Pierce County to start implementing the following elements:
- Governance: Put forth new board members. This task was completed when Chris Craig was appointed to Commissioner Position #1 on Oct. 25, 2022.
- Certified Operator: Retain a qualified and certified operator under contract for at least one year and identify a back-up operator.
- Small Water System Management Program: Update the 2012 Small Water System Management Program and seek DOH approval.
- Operations: Pierce County will coordinate with Valley Water District to transfer operational duties to Kapowsin Water District.
- Financial: Pierce County will coordinate the transfer of all billing and financial information to Kapowsin Water District. DOH will coordinate with Small Communities Initiative to explore future financial options.
The Kapowsin Water District Board of Commissioners is planning to hold a community meeting in early 2023 to discuss the details of the Plan and the path forward to end the receivership. Meeting details will be shared with the community once they have been determined.
Washington State Department of Health (DOH) regulations require periodic sanitary survey inspections on drinking water systems to identify conditions that may present a sanitary or public health risk. A sanitary survey includes reviewing the water system facilities and the operation’s practices and standards. The state drinking water rules require all Group A public drinking water systems to have a routine sanitary survey once every three to five years. The Kapowsin Water District water system received its DOH Sanitary Survey on Oct. 27.
The survey resulted in the following findings:
- Install a sump pump in the treatment plant valve vault. [Completed]
- Repair and test the backflow assembly. [Completed]
- Repair the raw water flow meter. [Ongoing]
The Washington State Department of Health and Pierce County appeared before the Pierce County Superior Court at the court review hearing. The hearing resulted in a continuance to Nov. 18, 2022.
A service line break was reported along Browne Road by multiple customers late in the evening. Valley Water District was informed of the leak and was on site next morning. Crews isolated the leak, completed repairs, and water service was restored at 11:30 a.m. The leak originated from a shallow and thin-walled poly tubing, approximately 12-inches deep. No boiled water advisory was required. Washington State Department of Health – Office of Drinking Water was notified of the water line break.
The Washington State Department of Health and Pierce County submit status report to the Pierce County Superior Court at the court review hearing. The hearing resulted in a continuance to April 1, 2022.
Pierce County Superior Court approved Administrative Standards for Kapowsin Receivership.
Pierce County submitted status report to the Pierce County Superior Court.
Pierce County submitted Kapowsin Water System Corrosion Control Remediation Report to DOH summarizing existing water quality data and identifying technically feasible corrosion control systems to address copper exceedances.
May 19 - present
Pierce County continues to apply the USDA-RD grant to reimburse 2017 emergency water hauling costs, and to refurbish and purchase standby generators for treatment building and booster pump.
April - June
Pierce County submitted three requests for FY 2022 appropriations to Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier. None of the appropriations were approved.
A service line break occurred at 15705 Griggs Rd. Valley Water District was informed of the leak at noon and repaired the issue and restored water service by 6 p.m. A service line made of thin-walled (1.25-inch) poly tubing, buried 12-inches to 18-inches deep had failed. The pipe had a significant kink and split about six inches from the kink. The Valley Water District crew excavated the site and replaced the damaged section with new pipe. The leak was not significant enough to drain storage tanks or depressurize the system. No boiled water advisory was required. Washington State Department of Health – Office of Drinking Water was notified of the water line break.
New Strainrite bag filters and differential gauges installed to filter out cryptosporidium and monitor build-up of material in filters. Strainrite filters were added in-line with previously installed 3M filters to meet strict filtration guidelines required for surface water filtration.
- Continue to develop information and potential options.
- Well project substantial completion for decommissioning and site restoration occurred on Oct. 15, 2020.
- Court date on Oct. 30, 2020, to provide receivership update.
Court date to provide receivership update.
Second post-drilling project meeting with funding and regulatory stakeholders to discuss options.
First post-drilling project meeting with funding and regulatory stakeholders to discuss options.
Contractor completed 24-hour pump test that indicated well produces less than 13 gallons per minute and even less water would be available after advanced treatment.
May 4 and 18
Lab results on preliminary water samples indicate well is high in arsenic, manganese, iron, total dissolved solids, sodium and chloride.
Contractor completed well drilling down to 800 feet and took preliminary water samples on April 29.
Contractor completed well drilling down to 580 feet and took preliminary water samples on April 20.
Tacoma Pump and Drilling is securing the well drill site. They are suspending work as of March 25 for an extended shutdown due to staffing issues. Work may restart as early as April 8. The contractor will inform Pierce County a week prior to verify personnel availability.
Well drilling work is delayed. The contractor is assessing staffing needs during the current events in order to continue work.
Tacoma Pump and Drilling Co. Inc. will arrive on site this week. Please visit the well drilling project page for updates.
Pressure relief valve installed to comply with DOH sanitary survey action item.
The broken fire hydrant along Griggs Road was replaced and is now fully operational.
- We are in the final stages of securing the construction contract agreement with Tacoma Pump & Drilling Co. Inc. to drill the well. The project should start January-March 2020.
- Field staff found a leak on the two-inch PVC pipe (from the raw water tank) entering the side of the booster pump building. The concrete around the pipe was dug up. The pipe was realigned and repaired.
- Valley Water District staff will be reading meters in January to collect data for upcoming DOH required water use reports.
Washington State Department of Health (DOH) regulations require periodic sanitary survey inspections on drinking water systems and are used to identify conditions that may present a sanitary or public health risk. A sanitary survey includes water system facilities, operations practices and standards. Washington state drinking water rules require all Group A public drinking water systems to have a routine sanitary survey once every three to five years. The Kapowsin Water District water system received a DOH Sanitary Survey on Sept. 30. Based on the survey results, the following repairs were made:
- Installation of a new screen on the tank air vent.
- Cutting and capping of all piping connections to the obsolete filtration system.
- Installation of foam seal on cast iron manhole access to storage tank.
- pH calibration solution dated.
- Draining of water from pipe chamber and leak detection. No leaks from piping or pipe penetrations were found but monitoring of these components will continue.
- A single bid was submitted for the well drilling project. The bid was not a full submission and therefore was deemed "non responsive."
- We are assessing next steps with the bid package and will re-advertise for new bids.
Pierce County staff met with Valley Water District and Washington Department of Health staff to discuss next steps related to the receivership process and well drilling project.
- Valley Water District is reading water meters July 7-13 to comply with Washington State regulations.
- Future readings for this purpose will occur October 2019, then annually in January.
Maintenance and operation of KWD ran a deficit 2017-2018. Beginning June 1, 2019, each connection will be charged a special assessment to recover the costs. The special assessment recoups maintenance and operations costs from November 2017-November 2018. The special assessment does not pay for improvements to provide a long-term reliable water source for KWD customers.
- Received Washington State Department of Health grant contract for $500,000. The contract is now being routed for signatures at Pierce County offices.
- Public meeting with KWD customers at Kapowsin Elementary School to share details of special assessment.
- We continue to move forward on work preparing for drilling the well. Some residents may have seen Pierce County survey crew staff on the property near the treatment building. They are locating the easements and property lines for that site.
- We are in discussions with Tacoma Public Utility on acquisition for some or all of this property for the well and additional treatment space if necessary.
- We are still waiting on grant contracts from the Department of Health and USDA-RD. These contracts provide grant money which will help pay for well construction.
- DOH and Pierce County provided report to court regarding KWD receivership.
- The Kapowsin Water District source water transmission line was repaired this morning. Valley Water District staff found the cause of the blockage at the source meter feeding into the Raw Water Storage Tank. There was a significant amount of debris clogging the filter screen. Water Buffalo Inc. brought in 3 truckloads of potable water to get the finished storage tank full, ensuring customers remained with water, and time to allow the Raw Water Storage Tank to refill. Valley Water District will be placing a “Y” filter at the Spring collection site that should keep debris from making its way into the transmission line. Thanks to Valley Water District staff for identifying the issue and promptly getting the water source back to operational!
- On Dec. 16, a Valley Water District employee observed the Booster Station storage tank was low while doing their weekend system checks. He then checked the Spring Site tank and found it empty with no water flowing into it. It is likely the problem is another obstruction or break in the transmission main. Valley Water District is in the process of investigating, and Water Buffalo started trucking water beginning in the morning of Dec. 17, 2018. We do not anticipate the system running out of water.
This site will be kept up to date with the most current information.
- We have completed the engineering design and construction bid package for the new groundwater well and received a letter of conditional approval from USDA-RD on Oct. 22, 2018. The well project is now on hold pending federal and state funder approval of the Environmental Review process. We received the Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the USDA-RD on Oct. 12, 2018. The publication of this on Nov. 14, 2018, completes the environmental review process for the federal grant application.
- We are working with the funding agencies to obtain final approval for the grant applications. Once this approval is received, we can work on finalizing the grant contracts.
- We provided public notice for the water right application. The 30-day comment period expired on Oct. 25, 2018. No comments were submitted on this project.
- Valley Water District completed repairs to several leaks in PVC piping inside the Kapowsin Booster Station.
- View the leaking pipe, the fixed pipe and installed a new Spring Pump check valve.
- We are working on finalizing the Department of Ecology Cost Reimbursement Agreement for processing the water right application.
- We received well drilling approval from the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) on Aug. 3, 2018.
- We are working with the funding agencies on requirements to finalize the two grant applications, including discussions on State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements.
- We met with the Muckleshoot Tribe on Aug. 16, 2018, to discuss the new well project and water rights transfer from a surface water right to groundwater right.
- We are negotiating land acquisition from Tacoma Public Utilities for the new well site.
- We have almost completed well design and bid specifications and anticipate sending this to the funders for review in early September and going out to bid in early October.
- We are still working on preparing new water utility administrative regulations.
- Graham Fire and Rescue installed a new Knox Box to facilitate quicker entry to the fire pump system.
New Well Source
- Our consultant is developing the drilling specifications for the new well and we are targeting August or early September to go out for bid. We are in negotiations with Tacoma Public Utilities on acquiring the right of entry to drill the new well on the property where the Water Treatment Building is located. This site reduces the distance needed between the well and treatment location but requires Tacoma Pierce County Health Department approval of a variance to the wellhead protection radius area from 100 feet down to 75 feet.
- An application was submitted to Washington Department of Ecology for new groundwater rights to go with the new well. DOE has provided us a checklist of the items needed to address in the well drilling project.
- We met with our Tribal Relations Manager regarding Government to Government relations on the new well project. Information was provided on this project.
- We applied for additional funding from the WA Department of Health Emergency Grant. The application has been received by DOH and is in the process of being reviewed. DOH expects to issue a decision about awarding this grant in a few months.
- Fire System
- We met with Graham Fire & Rescue and the Pierce County Fire Marshal regarding the Kapowsin Water District fire system. We evaluated how much flow could be taken from the water system without any negative impacts to the drinking water supply. The engine driven fire pump was tested and functions properly. The hydrant at the end of 296th was used to flush the line. After running the pump and flushing until the water was clear, all bags were removed from the hydrants in the system except for the damaged hydrant on the east end of Griggs Rd. Valley is exercising each hydrant just to be certain they function properly.
- We evaluated the potential to make automations to the fire pump system, but it is too costly right now. We are exploring additional grant opportunities to help pay for fire system upgrades.
- Valley Water District mailed a copy of the Annual Customer Report to each customer and submitted the required annual DOH report. You can also view the report for Rainer View Water Company, which is the water used for trucking while the transmission line was broken here.
- We met with DOH regarding water quality sampling at KWD. We then authorized Valley Water District to install one distribution sampling station so that they have a water quality withdrawal point that is not subject to contamination.
- There was a break in the valve that brings the raw water into the water treatment plant (click here to view a picture). VWD made emergency repairs and we have authorized VWD to replace these plastic fittings with new ductile iron components that will be less susceptible to breaking under the pressure flowing through this point.
Community Meeting on May 2, 2018, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kapowsin Elementary Multipurpose/Commons room, 10412 264th St. E., Graham, WA.
A community meeting is planned to discuss the Kapowsin water system and bring customers up to date on this ongoing project to provide a long-term more sustainable solution of a new groundwater source. Flyers have been sent to customers' homes.
Testing results of the drinking water was received, and residents are no longer on a boil water advisory.
Pierce County Sewer Division maintenance and operations staff located and repaired the break in the surface water source transmission line. Valley Water District, the system operator, will perform start up procedures, do water quality sampling, and make sure the plant is operating properly. Valley hopes to have the spring source back on line in the morning of March 19, 2018.
Boil Water Advisory beginning March 19, and until further notice, you are advised to boil water for 1 minute at a rolling boil then let the water cool before using. This Boil Water Advisory is in place until Valley Water District is confident the distribution system and treatment plant are working properly. This advisory is a precaution and is being issued for your protection. Please contact your doctor if you experience one or more of these symptoms: nausea, cramps, diarrhea, jaundice, headache and/or fatigue. People with chronic illnesses, infants and the elderly may be at a higher risk and should seek medical advice.
If you have additional questions regarding this matter, please contact Sean Vance or Brian Thompson at VWD at 253-841-9698.
We are making progress on funding sources. On February 6, 2018, Pierce County received a letter from USDA-Rural Development indicating the application for the $500,000 emergency grant for Kapowsin Water District receivership was approved and funds have been set aside for the new well project. Pierce County also submitted grant applications with both WA Department of Health (State Revolving Fund-emergency funding) and Pierce County Human Services (Community Development Block Grant).
Pierce County met with their engineering consultant who is preparing the scope, schedule and budget for the Kapowsin project which includes a new groundwater source. We continue to investigate the feasibility of repairing the broken transmission line, however, for now we continue trucking in water and rates remain at $150/month.
In mid-February, Graham Fire and Rescue requested the County to place a bag over the fire hydrants in the water district while they are inoperable. The fire hydrants will remain bagged until the fire flow system is fully operational.
Pierce County plans to provide a more formal status update to the KWD customers in late March or early April. In the meantime, check here for updated information.
Valley Water District filed a Creditor’s Proof of Claim against Kapowsin Water District in Pierce County Superior Court on Jan. 10, 2018, in the amount of $87,627.03. This claim will be addressed as part of the receivership process.
- June 2022: Receivership Letter to KWD Board of Commissioners
- 2021 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report
- Kapowsin Service Evaluation: Preliminary Engineering and Consolidation Feasibility Study Report
- DOH Response to Kapowsin Intertie Evaluation
- Aug. 31, 2021: Letter on July 2021 Declaration to the Court and Receivership Timeline
- August 2021: Report to the Court
- August 2021: Court Decision
- August 2021: Declaration of Carla Vincent
- July 2021: Report to the Court
- July 2021: Declaration of Carla Vincent
- 2020 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report Oct. 2020 Report to the Court
- A Receivership Primer
- Oct. 2020 Report to the Court Kapowsin Water District Receivership Questions and Answers
- Oct. 2020 Report to the Court History of Kapowsin Water District Receivership Action
- Oct. 2020 Report to the Court December 2020: Status Update on Receivership and Well Drill Project
- October 2020: Report to the Court
- October 2020: Report to the Court Exhibit A Oct. 2020: Exhibit A of report to court
- October 2020: Declaration of Katherine Brooks
- June 2020: Report to the Court
- June 2020: Declaration of Katherine Brooks
- Annual Drinking Water Quality Report
- Special assessment fact sheet
- Receivership financial overview
- May 8, 2019 meeting recap with Q & A summary
- Water Assistance Program from Living Access Support Alliance
- Payment assistance programs
- Letter from Pierce County to Kapowsin Water District Property Owners, Dec. 8, 2017
- Final signed Order appointing Receiver – No. 50351463
- Washington State Department of Health v. Kapowsin Water District
- Final signed Supplemental Order re Receiver Authority No. 50351578
- Washington State Department of Health v. Kapowsin Water District
- Order appointing an Ex Parte Temporary Receiver–No. 17-2-12992-1
- Washington State Department of Health v. Kapowsin Water District)
- Proclamation of Emergency (Office of the Executive)Pierce County Washington, Nov. 15, 2017
- Valley Water District letter to Customers, Nov. 6, 2017
- Kapowsin Resolution No. 104 raising the base monthly rate to $150
RCWs pertaining to Receivership
Sewer Billing & Customer Service:
24-Hour Sewer Emergency:
8:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.
Closed all major holidays
9850 64th St. W
University Place, WA