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Water Quality Report 2014 Review

If you are a Ferndale water/sewer customer, you probably received a brochure from the city entitled, “Water Quality Report 2014.” While full of data and information it may have left you with more questions. After contacting city staff for some clarification, here is a review of the information provided.

The majority of the information in the brochure was about potential nasties that can exist in a water supply and their related health hazards.

The big takeaways appear to be the reduction in the amount of chlorine that needs to be used as compared with before the reverse osmosis system was implemented and the reduced hardness level since the implementation of the reverse osmosis system in late 2014.

A table was included that was meant to show the results of measuring the Ferndale water supply after treatment processing during the 2014 calendar year.


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Ferndale water quality report 2014 data table from mailed brochure

The table contains lots of information but the second column contains what we are looking for, the measure detected for each substance labeled either as “range detected” or referencing samples collected.

Substance Amount/Range
Chlorine 0.4 to 1.0 ppm  4
Copper (tested in 2012) 0 to 0.194 ppm 1.3
Lead (tested in 2012) 0 to 0.016 ppm  0.015
Total Coliform 0 of 132 samples  0
Nitrate 0 of 1 sample  10 ppm
Haloacetic Acids 4.9 to 12.1 ppb  60 ppb
Total Trihalomethanes 39.5 to 77.0 ppb  80 ppb


City staff clarified via email that “range detected” indicates the lowest and the highest measures taken during 2014. When asked for data that might indicate any trends up or down through the year, the response was,

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It is getting better. We activated the Reverse Osmosis (Water Softening System) in late 2014 to reduce hardness and since then, the THM (Trihalomethanes – potential carcinogens) levels have dropped from 63.2 ppb to 29.1 ppb and there has been a noticeable reduction in the Chlorine used to treat the water.

Note the “29.1 ppb” measure is lower than what is on the table because the table contains data from 2014 and presumably this lower number is from more recent 2015 samples.

Elsewhere on the brochure was a request for voluntary water usage reduction, namely when “watering.”

Ferndale water quality report 2014 request for voluntary usage reduction from mailed brochure

Maybe we are paying more attention to such things these days but requests could not be recalled from years prior nor could any references be found on the city website. In the absence of a reason why the request was being made, it had to be asked. Here is the response.

We [Ferndale] have participated in a voluntary watering schedule since 2006 in participation with the Whatcom Water Alliance, along with Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden and Sumas as well as Birch Bay Water and Sewer District, Evergreen Water District, Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, Point Roberts Water District, Water District #2 and Water District #7. Alliance members agree to support and promote a voluntary watering schedule, and a rain barrel program.

Birch Bay Water and Sewer District has good information on their website about the watering schedule and rain barrel program.

It was confirmed the Ferndale water supply aquifer is not reliant upon the snow pack as it is recharged mostly via surface water (local rainfall).

Snow packs may come and go, but our aquifer does not receive a significant volume of water from the snow melt. With more precipitation on the schedule for this year, we are confident that we will have more than enough water available for the people of Ferndale in the foreseeable future.

The forecast for the water supply remains more than optimistic as the Bellingham region is at 117% of normal rainfall for the water year (October to September).


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