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City of Grants Pass Press Releases

Posted on: October 16, 2023

Looking back at the Water Treatment Plant proposal from 1927

water flowing from a kitchen faucet

Imagine a Day Without Water on October 19, 2023, is a National Day of Action that brings together diverse participants to highlight how water is essential, invaluable, and in need of continuous investment. 

The gravitas of safeguarding water for future generations with which the current City Council is tasked is similar to the discussions that were happening a century ago. 

Currently, the Council is moving forward with a replacement Water Treatment Plant designed to withstand a major seismic event and supply the needs of an expanding population; a century earlier, the Council was faced with public demand that water be filtered and not smell bad. 

This letter was submitted to the Council in November 1927:

letter regarding the water treatment plant from 1927

Here is some data from the report noted in the letter of 1927, which is still relevant today.

An adequate supply of pure and wholesome water is necessity for any commumity. Water has been identified as the origin of many epidemic diseases, and an uncontaminated supply is a requisite to public health. Hard, turbid or impure water cannot be used in many manufacturing processes and good water is essential to the industrial growth of a City. 

As the demand for water depends upon the population and per capita consumption, the first studies have been in the probable rate of growth for the community. 

The Rogue River is a swift flowing Mountain Stream rising in the high Cascade Mountains and having its origin very largely in springs. Much of the water is supposed to come from Crater Lake. The water, from the nature of its source, is soft and except during freshets is clear and attractive. On account of the large watershed area, and habitation of some of the tributary streams above Grants Pass, the water is not safe for use without sterilization. The present water supply for Grants Pass is pumped direct from the river and chlorinated. Although the sediment in the river is heavy only for a small percentage of the time, this is deposited in the mains and at other seasons is agitated by hydrant flushing or high velocities to cause turbid water at the services. There is no question that a great improvement in the average quality of the water should be secured by plain sedimentation, by retaining the water in a quiescent state long enough to permit the greater part of the silt to settle out. To ensure an entirely satisfactory municipal supply, a water which at all times is perfectly clear, limpid and sparkling, the Rogue River supply would have to be filtered.

Summarizing the discussions in this report, it may be stated that the Rogue River offers an ample, feasible and satisfactory source of supply for Grants Passe To secure in all seasons clear, sparkling water, as the public demands, the water should be filtered, and for absolute safety this should be accompanied by sterilization. The principal features of the waterworks plant will be the pumping and filtration plant, reservoirs, and a pipe distribution system. The cost of an ideal system from this source of supply will cost from $314,000. to $435,000.

While the language of 100 years ago sounds dated, the facts remain relevant today: clean reliable water is essential to sustain and grow the population and industry of Grants Pass.

To underscore the importance of progressing with the plan for a replacement Water Treatment Plant, note the highlighted information in this photo related to the life expectancy of our current plant when it was built:

report regarding costs of the water treatment plant from 1927

In 1927, the estimated life expectancy of the current plant buildings was approximately 40 years, meaning it was reaching the end of its life expectancy during the Nixon administration. 

The current Water Treatment Plant is clearly on borrowed time, and replacing it is essential, lest imagining a day without water becomes more than a day-long campaign.

Follow this link to learn more about the value of water.

Learn more about the value of water
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