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Public Works Dept.
Kamiah Public Works covers Drinking Water, Sewer & Wastewater, Streets, and Parks. Public Works is also responsible for reading water meters.
Our new Drinking Water Plant treats water from the Clearwater River to provide the city's drinking water. This plant is capable of producing up to a million gallons per day. The City of Kamiah does NOT fluoridate our drinking water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we have to chlorinate our drinking water?
The City of Kamiah operates a surface water filtration plant. This plant takes water from the Clearwater River and removes the sediment and a huge percentage of the microorganisms present. But our type of plant, like virtually all municipal systems, cannot remove ALL the microorganisms. So we must chlorinate to a minimal level to ensure public safety. Filtration and chlorination pretty much eliminated epidemics of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid fever, plus a host of other waterborne diseases.
But I don't like the taste & smell of chlorine. What can I do to prevent that?
There are a couple things you can do, and the good news is they are not very expensive. First, if you let a glass of water sit for a few minutes the worst of the chlorine odor dissipates. But it isn't hard to remove it at the tap or your refrigerator's water dispenser using a simple carbon filter. These are available through the hardware stores in our area. A tap mounted unit costs roughly $35. Periodic cartridge changes every three to six months usually recommended, so factor in the cost for these. The really nice thing about these is they also filter out any organics such as the musty taste & odor we get in the fall from the river algae. This type of algae is not toxic, but isn't usually considered especially pleasant.
Why does my water look discolored?
Drinking water can sometimes appear to not be crystal clear as we prefer. The most common issue is a whitish appearance. This is caused by entrapped air. A small amount of air get dissolved in the water, and under the right conditions sudden depressurization- such as when we open our tap- allows this air to get released in microbubbles. These extremely tiny bubbles will clear up in a couple of minutes all by themselves, so there is no reason for concern there. It is interesting to watch them dissipate in a clear glass.
Next issue is a brown or reddish color. This can have two causes.
One is rust getting dislodged from old iron or galvanized pipes. Very often this comes from your own pipes if they are old steel pipes, but this can also come from some of the city's mains if there has been maintenance activity in the area or fire hydrant flushing. (Much of our infrastructure piping is no longer steel and therefore unable to rust) This kind of color clears itself up with a bit of flushing. Be sure to remove and clean any aerator screens because any scale that gets dislodges can and will plug these screens up. Your washing machine and dishwasher might have these as well. The amount of flushing varies depending on how widely the issue was distributed and how many other users are helping flush. If this doesn't clear up from a few minutes of flushing you may want to contact us through City Hall so we can look into it.
The second cause of brown water is Manganese. Manganese is a mineral found naturally in areas along the Clearwater River. Certain times of year, usually when the river starts rising, some of this manganese gets dissolved and carried along. When this manganese gets exposed to chlorine (including bleach!) it can, under the right conditions, turn brown. These conditions fortunately don't often line up all the same time. It takes time for this to develop when it does happen. Most often this is discovered by folks who don't use much water, so it has longer to sit in your pipes. So when this does happen, just flush each of your inside taps a bit and you probably won't happen again for a couple days- if at all. Whatever you do do not try to remove stains with bleach! This will only make the stains worse! A mild acid like vinegar is said to help. Some mix a little hydrogen peroxide with the vinegar. In some cases something like CLR (available at our local hardware stores) will get the job done a lot quicker, but please read instructions and follow precautions when using any chemical.