Peninsula Light Co. announced plans to add over 30 new shares to the Key Center water system at a presentation to the Key Peninsula Community Council Sept. 13.
Water shares are defined as equivalent residential units (ERUs) and take into account water use and fire flow. Jacqueline Goodwill, communications and public relations director for PenLight, said the number of ERUs in Key Center had been set years ago at 70, and over the last 10 years there were only three new requests. When The Mustard Seed Project began planning to build assisted living in Key Center, the water required for three 10-bedroom homes meant that there were no more shares to offer.
“We think that housing project is really important to the community,” Goodwill said. “But we also know that there are others who need water.” PenLight staff investigated both water rights and the capacity of the system and determined they can expand available connections to 100. The expansion will not require any major infrastructure changes. PenLight will submit a new small water system plan to the state, with the expectation of approval by the end of 2017.
There are three types of water systems on the Key Peninsula. Many residents have individual wells. Class B systems, licensed and regulated by the Pierce County Health Department, can serve from two to 14 homes. Some class B systems are self-managed and others are managed by PenLight or Washington Water. Class A systems, licensed by the state, serve systems with more than 14 connections. PenLight owns and manages the Key Center system.
Dr. William Roes remembers when the well was drilled more than 20 years ago and he was building his office. The system was built for 100 homes, he said. The holding tank holds about 100,000 gallons. PenLight bought the system in 1998.
Jonathan White, PenLight director of member services and marketing, said that should Key Center grow significantly in the future, increasing capacity beyond the proposed plan would require an additional evaluation of the well, pump and storage capacity. The planning and implementation of those changes will require several years of notice to consider a capital plan.