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Homeowners Provide Water for Fire Fighting

Highlights in Conservation icon

Homeowners Provide Water for Fire Fighting

Fire District #9 demonstrating how the dry hydrant works. Photo provided by Machelle Rzepka.

Fire District #9 demonstrating how the dry hydrant works. Photo provided by Machelle Rzepka.

Location icon
Spokane County

Project Summary icon
The Upper Columbia Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) assisted Waterview Terrace homeowners in developing a dry hydrant to provide water for fire fighting.

Conservation Partners icon
Waterview Terrace Homeowners Association, Spokane County Conservation District, Spokane County Fire District #9, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Upper Columbia RC&D and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Resource Challenges icon
This area along the Spokane River (Long Lake) is prone to forest and structural fires. Response time from the local fire district can be as much as 20 minutes and access to an adequate water supply is very limited at certain times of the year. Even though the lake is right there, access to the water by fire districts is limited to viable access by tankers, fluctuating water levels, shoreline weed growth, and winter ice. A dry hydrant was the answer.

In the early 90s a fire storm just missed the Waterview Terrace development and burned hundreds of acres around them. In 2006 a million dollar home burned to the ground because fire fighters could not get enough water to fight the fire. It was winter and the lake had been drawn down and the shallow water had frozen. Fire fighters hauled water in tankers, but could only handle 500 gallons at a time due to treacherous road conditions.

Conservation Program Used icon
This project did not traditional funding programs to solve the problem. Landowners funded the project themselves by “passing the hat.” The Upper Columbia RC&D Council facilitated the project by requesting technical assistance from NRCS through its CTA program to provide survey and design assistance. The Upper Columbia RC&D Council assisted in organizing the group, preparing permit applications and working with the WDFW to meet fish friendly screen requirements for the dry hydrant intake.

Innovations and Highlights icon
This project really demonstrated that a small community can solve many of the problems it faces. They didn’t accept that the problem was just the way it is and live with it; and they didn’t expect someone else to fix it. The community didn’t know how to solve the water problem, but they were not afraid to ask for guidance. A commitment was made to provide the funding and labor if the Upper Columbia RC&D would help guide them through the process.

Results and Accomplishments icon
It took two years for the water level in Long Lake to drop to its lowest point. The homeowners association jumped into action. The Upper Columbia RC&D made sure permits were in order, a biologist was on site, and backhoe and operator were fired up ready to go to work. The dry hydrant construction was completed in two days. Since then all the fire districts in the area have come and trained on hooking up to the hydrant and will be able to not only fight fires around the Waterview Terrace development, but now have the ability to fill tankers for hauling water to fires in the surrounding area. ”

Contact icon
Gary Mitchell, Upper Columbia Resource Conservation & Development Office, (509) 924-7350 ext. 119

NRCS, Fall 2007