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Providing the citizens of Tacoma with clean, reliable water has been a priority for the utility since its inception in 1893 and continued to be a major focus in 2018, along with future planning initiatives, commitment to the community, and a strong focus on employee safety.


Following the Lead Response in 2016, a consulting team assisted in evaluating the city’s corrosion control treatment. After extensive testing in 2017, a revised Corrosion Control Recommendation Study was completed and approved, providing new treatment requirements for all of Tacoma Water’s sources, including groundwater for the first time.  


Collaborative efforts resulted in the development of a Lead Gooseneck Replacement Plan to replace 1,215 suspected lead goosenecks from the distribution system within five years. The project’s objectives will complete the work in a geographically equitable manner, provide relevant regular communication to staff and public, and involve a coordinated effort with area partners to minimize disruptions. Through 2018, the gooseneck project has exceeded the goal of resolving 608 suspected lead gooseneck locations.


In response to national and regional concerns, voluntary testing for manmade perfluorinated chemicals was conducted at the Green River and individual groundwater wells. This sampling detected levels of these PFAS compounds that were above the level established by the EPA at one well source, and the well in question was immediately taken out of service. Tacoma Water worked with both State and County health officials to develop and deliver health advisory messages to the public that may have accessed water from this well.  


In May 2018, we saw a three-day emergency drill conducted at the Tacoma Water intake structure with BNSF, Department of Ecology, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and several emergency response agencies, which simulated a spill response in the Green River. In addition to spill response action, the Utility also completed a vulnerability assessment surrounding seismic resilience. It was determined that the fastest way to restore water supply to Tacoma (should transmission be lost in the event of seismic activity) will be from the more local groundwater sources. Major progress occurred in 2018 to analyze and scope seismic improvement work at three key groundwater facilities, and at Water’s operational building, which laid the foundation for large design and construction projects set to launch in 2019.


In September 2018, a sanitary survey inspection of Tacoma’s water distribution related facilities was completed, and the findings focused primarily on two topics: development of a plan for pressurization of Pipeline 1, as well as addressing some identified potential contamination risks at some reservoir and air valve locations. 


The Green River Filtration Facility was awarded a Bronze Certificate of Achievement for 3 years of outstanding performance. Filtration facility staff completed a 15-month performance-based training program along with other major utilities in the state (Seattle, Everett, City of Bellingham, Pasco, City of Richland, Skagit PUD, City of Anacortes and Yakima) which was designed to create a collaborative group for shared knowledge, lessons learned and best practices. 

In response to national and regional concerns, voluntary testing for manmade perfluorinated chemicals was conducted at the Green River and individual groundwater wells. 



Tacoma Water owns and operates a diverse and complex mix of water resources, ranging from the Green River to an array of groundwater wells. In 2018, an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was completed, and demonstrated the reliability and value of that diverse set of resources. The resource plan is incorporated into the larger Water System Plan, and together this work demonstrates the capability of the Utility to meet a wide range of regulatory and public expectations. 


For the first time all distribution order cards used to document field construction activities were mapped and there was no backlog. Substantial improvements were also made to improve backup electrical power systems at key pumping and treatment facilities and the Water Control Center.


Tacoma Water continued to meet the developer demand for the construction of schools, apartments, shopping centers, etc., with workload production statistics matching the sentiment around the Puget Sound region regarding economic development for new business and real estate. 

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860 fixed fee orders

In 2018, approximately 860 fixed fee orders were created, which was near the average from 2004-2008, and nearly triple the amount from the low in 2010

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Over 50%

The number of time and material orders dramatically increased - over 50% of the year’s past

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208 letters

208 water availability letters were issued, beating previous years' performance

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Over 1,370 permits

Over 1,370 permits were commented on, which is almost 20% more than the past year

In terms of operations, in 2018 the system experienced 28 main breaks down from 52 last year, and well below the industry recommended target of 15 breaks, reflecting a highly reliable water system. The unidirectional flush teams cleaned 253 miles of main in 2018, approximately 20% of the distribution system. Additionally, 2,147 dead end mains were flushed. 


Tacoma Water’s new 2018-2027 conservation plan was approved by the Public Utility Board and City Council. The utility attended 14 community events, totaling over 1,500 conversations about conservation with Tacoma customers, gave out over 200 water-efficient showerheads and over 500 faucet aerators.


Final plans for the Tacoma Link Light Rail system were submitted and approved for construction and services and water main work will begin in 2019 on this high profile community project.


2018 also welcomed Tacoma Water’s partnership with the City of Tacoma Public Works Department to install its second combination water bottle refill station-drinking fountain. Further installations are planned for 2019 and beyond with additional partners that include Metro Parks Tacoma and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.


Safety and resilience were key themes for Tacoma Water in 2018. In order to ensure clean, ample drinking water for our customers, we must routinely test, maintain, and upgrade our 125-year-old infrastructure. Protecting against contaminants and planning for a diverse mix of resources are critical to maintaining our high standard of service and quality

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