Groundwater Supply & Treatment

Summary of Benefits

  • Groundwater versus surface water
  • Higher level of business competitiveness
  • Lower water rates to Fife residents
  • Utilization of existing water rights

Project Description

The City of Fife serves potable water to over 8,200 customers (Equivalent Residential Units) within its service area. Historically, the City has owned and operated 6 groundwater wells, all of which have been taken out of service due to either declining yield or water quality issues (arsenic). At present the City purchases all of its water supply from Tacoma Water. Over the past 12 years, Tacoma Water has increased wholesale rates by approximately 10% each year. These increases have dramatically impacted water rates to Fife residents and businesses. As a result, water rates have become burdensome to our residents and are impacting the economic competitiveness of our businesses, many of whom support the Port of Tacoma.

New Groundwater Well

The City has determined to mitigate these fiscal impacts through the development of a new well which will provide a significant portion of its needed supply. The City has recently drilled a 1,000 feet deep groundwater well capable of producing 1.5 MGD and are in the process of permitting its use through the Department of Ecology. This project will provide the pumping and water treatment facilities necessary to develop this independent groundwater supply. This anticipated quantity is sufficient to meet approximately 50% of the City’s total future demand moving the City closer to re-establishing a level of fiscal independence from rapidly escalating wholesale suppliers.

Project Costs

To date the City has expended approximately $100,000 of ratepayer dollars on the project. The estimated cost to complete the well project is $5,500,000. The buy-in cost to purchase the equivalent amount of wholesale water from Tacoma Water is $4.4M resulting in a net cost for this project of only $1,100,000 and a permanent reduction in operations and maintenance costs. The payback for this project, not including debt service, is less than 2 years. Once capital costs have been funded, the City will realize a reduction in operational costs of approximately $850,000 per year by its ability to reduce its reliance on the purchase of wholesale water. The result of which will be seen in lower rates for the City’s customers and allow for our businesses to be more economically competitive.

Project Benefits

In addition to the benefits of lower operational costs and an independence with respect to water supply, this project provides Fife customers with a groundwater source in place of a surface water source. As a rule groundwater poses less risk from seasonal fluctuations in climate (snowpack and rainfall) and less exposure to disinfection by-products and surface water contaminants such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia than does a surface water supply.

Funding Summary

Project Cost to Date
(Well Drilling and Water Rights)

($ million)

City of Fife

$0.2 M

Proposed Funding Needs
(Property, Design, and Construction)

($ million)

City of Fife

$4.3 M

2011 Appropriation Request

$1.0 M

Total Project Cost

$5.5 M

Proposed Schedule

Task & Cost

  • Well Drilling: $0.1 M
    • 2009 and 2010
  • Property Acquisition: $0.4 M
    • 2011 through 2013
  • Water Rights: $0.1 M
    • 2012 through 2018
  • Design: $0.8 M
  • Permitting: $0.1 M
  • Construction: $4.0 M