Do you ever wonder where the water comes from when you turn on the faucet, or does it even cross your mind? I’d like to tell you a little about where it comes from and how it gets to you.
Let’s start at the source and work towards your home or business. Lakehaven actually has water from two sources: ground water from several aquifers in the greater Federal Way area, and surface water that comes from the Green River watershed and is stored behind the Howard Hanson Dam (located about 20 miles east of Auburn). Lakehaven has 25 production wells located throughout the service area. These wells pump water into the large storage tanks you’ve seen around the area. These storage tanks serve two purposes. One is to ensure adequate pressure in the system. The other is to provide extra volume when higher than normal usage occurs (think large fires, or thousands of football fans flushing the toilet during half time of the Super Bowl with the Seahawks ahead by 14 points).
In 2000, we joined with Tacoma, Kent, and the Covington Water District, to develop a supply pipeline from the Howard Hanson Dam to supplement our ground water resources. Snow melt and rain water fill the reservoir behind the dam allowing Lakehaven to draw up to 6.5 million gallons of water a day during the drier months of the year. This allows the aquifers to rest and recharge. In 2015, working with our partners, we opened a new filtration plant to the pipeline to make the water even more pure and reliably available than it was previously.
There are literally hundreds of miles of water lines running throughout the service area. These range in size from 24” transmission mains down to a four inch pipe in front of your house, with a one-inch pipe “teeing” off from the main to serve your house. Note that those four-inch pipes are typically the oldest in the system and are reaching the end of their expected service life. Because of their age, and the fact that they do not meet current standards for water supply systems, they are being upgraded to eight-inch ductile iron pipe as part of an ongoing replacement program.
Other parts of the system include booster pumps to increase pressure in areas far away from the storage tanks, and, conversely, pressure reducing valves to lower the pressure in areas at lower elevation. There are also thousands of valves in the pipes to control and isolate the flow of water in the event of a main break. The last component of the system are the 38,000 water meters that connect homes and businesses to the water supply.
Finally the most important parts of the water distribution system: the dedicated Lakehaven employees who operate and maintain the system. They not only work their regular shifts during the week days, they are also available nights, weekends, and holidays to respond to emergencies so that you don’t have to wonder if the water will flow when you turn on the faucet.