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City Dedicates New Water Treatment Facility

Honors Locke, Wellman

The Nathan Wellman Memorial Water Treatment Plant at Buck Creek is now serving water customers of the city of White Salmon.

On Aug. 25, a group of nearly 50 gathered to dedicate the newly constructed water filtration plant, which employs sand filters to purify the water from Buck Creek.

The $2 million water infrastructure project has been under active construction since June 2009, with design and engineering work ongoing for many months prior to that.

City officials said the plant was capable of producing approximately 1,000 gallons of water per minute.

"This gives us a stable water supply for the next 20 years," said White Salmon Mayor David Poucher.

Poucher also pointed out that the plant was designed to be extremely efficient in its use of energy.

"This whole system works off of several 12-volt batteries. We produce water for the entire city without using electricity," Poucher explained. "It's going to save us $60,000 in electricity, and there couldn't be a greener water producing system in the state of Washington."

The filtration plant was necessary because the wells the city had invested in -- they went on line in 2000 -- were not recharging sufficiently to keep up with demand. The two wells will remain in service in a limited capacity.

The plant was named for the son of former White Salmon Public Works Director Mike Wellman, who designed the filtration plant. Nathan Wellman drowned in an accident on the Klickitat River in July 1994.

According to Poucher, the filtration plant project was hatched in March 2008.

"Mike Wellman and I were strategizing over how to fix the water system," he said. "We began planning in earnest in June 2008."

"It's very gratifying to see it completed," Wellman said. "It's a wonderful investment in the future."

At the dedication ceremony, Poucher took note of the importance of the successful completion of the water facility.

"Today is a great day for every citizen of White Salmon," Poucher said."It is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years."

Poucher singled out several individuals and government agencies, praising them for helping to guide the infrastructure improvement project to its happy conclusion.

However, Poucher reserved his highest praise for Mike Wellman, who designed the filtration plant; and for Bill Locke, who served as the city's chief inspector during the plant's construction.

"Bill Locke was the eyes and ears for the city while the construction went forward," Poucher said at the dedication. "Bill was tragically killed while inspecting part of the transmission line. We can never, ever come close to filling Bill's shoes, but the City Council voted unanimously to name and dedicate the water transmission line for Bill."

Poucher then presented a bronze plaque to Locke's widow, Sandra, and another to the Wellman family.

The plaque in honor of Bill Locke read as follows: "Bill Locke Buck Creek Transmission Facility. In memory of Bill Locke, who gave his life working on the transmission main. August 2010."

Sandra Locke said she was very thankful for the plaque honoring her late husband.

"It means a great deal," she said. "Bill was very conscientious in wanting to do a good job for the citizens of White Salmon. He would have been very grateful. It was a great tribute."

The plaque for the Wellman family read: "Nathan Wellman Memorial Buck Creek Slow Sand Plant. Dedicated to the citizens of White Salmon. Drink in good health! August 2010."

Wellman said he deeply appreciated the plant being dedicated to his son.

"It's a marvelous blessing to our family," he said. "It helps us all remember our loved ones, like Bill and Nathan, who are no longer here. We pay tribute to them by having facilities dedicated to them."

Both plaques will be mounted at the plant site.

Dignitaries on hand for the dedication included Klickitat County Commissioners Rex Johnston and David Sauter, Klickitat Public Utility District Commissioners Ron Ihrig and Ray Mosbrucker, Tom Tebbs of the Washington Department of Ecology, Andy Cervantes from the Washington Department of Health, Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes, and four of the five members of the White Salmon City Council -- Bob Landgren, Anthony Coulter, Mark Peppel, and Adrian Bradford. Also in attendance were two former members of the City Council -- Brad Roberts and Timi Keene. Russell Dallas, the former director of the city's Public Works Department, also attended.

Poucher said he appreciated the many agencies that contributed to getting the plant on line.

"City government worked with county government and state agencies with a common goal and completed it," Poucher explained. "In today's day and age, that's something very important."

After a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Wellman led a tour of the new facilities, located along Buck Creek a few miles northwest of Northwestern Lake.

"This has been a long process and it is time to celebrate," said Poucher.

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