Arlington's Water System

screen_4eb1a700a1590c8b_1696014635118The History of City of Arlington’s Water System

ls which are fed by the Stillaguamish River located in the Haller South Wellfield at Haller Park. The original well is believed to have been established in the late 1890’s for Haller City and the Dorgan Shingle mill located West of Haller Park. In 1904, out of a dire necessity for a pure water supply, City officials hired C.T. Mescher and his associates from Snohomish to come and install a water system with a small steam plant.  The first working water mains and fire hydrants were installed and turned on in April of 1905. On September 11, 1905, a new water franchise was granted to Neil Brown, Thomas Moran, and Nels K. Tvete, locals of the area. This forced the original water company out of business and the new company took over.  The new company, originally named Arlington Water, Power & Light Company later changed their name to Jim Creek Water & Light Company. This company built the Jim Creek dam about seven miles east and up the river from the city to supply electricity. The original wooden dam washed out in March of 1906, and a new concrete dam was built in its place and supplied electricity to Arlington until 1928; this dam was removed in 1935.

On June 12, 1916, the Jim Creek Water & Light Company was sold to Warner Marshall who transferred it to Stone & Webster, a subsidiary corporation of Puget Sound Power & Light Company (PSPL). Prior to any filtration, the water was pumped from the well using the shingle mill’s steam plant and was brought through wooden pipes into town for the businesses and residences. When the road bridge across the Stillaguamish River next to the existing railroad bridge (Centennial Trail) was being reconstructed in 1923, people began to complain about the quality of the water. In direct response to the complaints, the PSPL began construction of a water treatment plant equipped with a filtration system in 1924. In October 1938, the plant underwent a renovation to its 500-gallon filter bed increasing production to 1000 gallons per minute.

In September of 1939, after a vote of the citizens, the City of Arlington purchased the water plant and distribution system from the PSPL for $49,000.00 and has owned and operated it ever since. In the late 1950’s the City purchased the Airport property, connecting the airport well to the city system in the early 1960’s. In 1961 the City began replacing all the wood mains and two additional wells were drilled next to the original well at Haller Park.  In 1998 the City began to purchase additional water from Snohomish County PUD to supplement the city’s growing population.  The current water treatment plant was rebuilt next to the original plant in 2001, closing the plant constructed in 1924. The original plant still stands today, next to the current plant.       

Current Water System 

In 2001 the City began operation of a new Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that replaced the original 1924 WTP.  The new WTP had an enhanced filtration system that was able to continue production of water at 1,700 gallons per minute (gpm) while also meeting new state and federal requirements promulgated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.  

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply, the law was amended in 1986 and again in 1996.  The SDWA requires many actions by water utilities for the treatment of water and for the protection of drinking sources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting national limits for hundreds of substances in drinking water and specifies various treatment processes that water systems must use to remove these substances, these federal regulations are enforced locally by the Washington state Department of Health.

Arlington’s water currently comes from three sources: two wells (Haller Wellfield and Airport Well) and a connection with Snohomish County PUD District No.1.  The Haller wellfield has been the City’s primary water source since 1906 and continues to supply 85% of the City’s total water needs today.  The City is currently expanding its production capacity at the Haller wellfield to continue providing water for Arlington’s growing community.  The strong influence of the Stillaguamish River on the Haller wells requires special treatment provided by the Arlington WTP.  The other sources, Airport well and PUD connection, do not require filtration in the City’s treatment facility.  

Arlington’s WTP treats water pumped from the Haller wellfield in several steps, the primary treatment processes are sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection.  When the plant was constructed in 2001, regulations at the time only permitted construction of a treatment system that could process water at a rate of 1,700 gpm.  To match the community’s growing demand for water and increased production from the Haller wellfield, the City is expanding the capacity at the WTP.  This expansion will continue to use the same treatment process but will have a completed capacity of 3,400 gpm with room for an additional 1,600 gpm capacity.    

The Future of Arlington's Water System

 To meet growing water demands, the City is increasing its raw water production capacity from its Haller South Wellfield located at Haller Park. This project began in 2020 with installation of test wells to determine the viability of installing two new production wells. Work began on installing the two new production wells on October 16th.  At the same time, the City began work with Brown & Caldwell to design new wellhouse buildings, along with new pumps and controls, for the new production wells.  The initial design has been approved by the Department of Health and we have moved into the final design of the wellhouse, with construction anticipated to begin in 2024.  The City continues to look for alternate locations to add future wells for increased production. 

With these two new wells, the City will increase its raw water production capacity from the current 1,700 gpm to 3,400 gpm. To treat the additional raw water being pumped from the Haller South Wellfield, the City is also expanding the Water Treatment Plant (WTP).  The design of the WTP Expansion began in 2021 and received Department of Health approval in 2022. The City is ready to start final design of the WTP Expansion Project and is anticipating construction bidding in 2024.  

The WTP Expansion will be constructed on the site of the 1924 WTP building next to the current WTP. Before this project can be constructed, the old 1924 WTP building must first be demolished.  Demolition of the 1924 WTP building is scheduled to occur in late 2023/early 2024.  The new WTP Expansion building will have capacity to support four 800 gpm filtration units, Phase 1 will install two filtration units increasing the treatment capacity by 1,600 gpm.  Phase 2 of the WTP Expansion will allow for the addition of two filtration units when the water demand exceeds capacity.

Together, these projects will ensure that the Arlington community has a long-term source of clean drinking water for the future.