Chenowith Water PUD

The Dalles, OR

Chenowith PUD Recognized

Posted on Jun 27, 2016

Chenowith Water PUD has won back-to-back excellence awards from the state for how it manages its water system.


The Oregon Health Authority certified that the PUD met the criteria for an “outstanding performance” designation during its latest survey. The surveys, which measure a utility’s ability to safely provide water to customers, are done periodically by the state, with the frequency based on performance on past surveys. Because the PUD had an outstanding rating, it was able to go five years between site surveys. Water systems with a less than outstanding rating have to have the survey done every three years. The last Chenowith PUD survey that garnered an outstanding designation was done under the watch of late PUD Manager Roger Prowell. The current manager, Jeb Miller, said he had a goal of winning the designation again in his honor and memory.

The outstanding designation is hard won, according to staff. “They don’t just hand these out to anybody,” said employee Nathan Pope. Just 62 water systems statewide earned the designation last year. Water system surveys are on-site reviews of water sources, treatment facilities reservoirs and system records. Records checks include everything from having an emergency response plan in place to detailed records of chemical treatment of water. As for facilities, “They look at the condition of your buildings, the condition of your pumps, how secure it is,” said Bill Van Ek, an employee at the PUD. “They look at the condition of the reservoirs, making sure everything’s sanitary,” he said.  Van Ek gave the reporter a tour of the pristine-looking facilities at the Chenowith office, at 2312 W. 8th St., which include massive filters, pumps and wellheads.

The PUD has four wells, five reservoirs, and about 4,500 customers on the west end of The Dalles and surrounding areas. The PUD is preparing for eventual growth into its area with the installation of a large 12-inch water mainline across Chenowith Creek at West Sixth Street and River Road. The PUD has ample capacity to meet growth demands.
It has a capacity to pump five million gallons a day and has never exceeded two million gallons a day.

While every day can be different, typical duties for the four men who work in the field include meter reading, hydrant flushing, well checks, daily water sampling at multiple locations, maintaining and replacing meters, and 24/7 response to emergencies. “Basically we are going to every part of our facility once a day, even on weekends, just to make sure everything’s good and safe and smooth,” Miller said.

The PUD recently got a device that allows them to test water meters remotely, which saves on fuel, easing the carbon footprint, and also staff time.
“What used to take a day can be done in an hour,” Miller said. All the employees in the field have multiple certifications for their work.

Bill Van Ek has certifications as a water distribution operator Level 3, a water treatment operator Level 1, cross connections specialist, and backflow tester.

Nathan Pope is certified as a water distribution operator Level 2, cross connection specialist, backflow tester, and has his CDL.

Brenton Adams is a backflow tester. He has water distribution operator Level 1 and cross connection specialist courses coming up in the 2016/2017 fiscal year.

Jeb Miller is a water distribution operator Level 3, a water treatment operator Level 1, a cross connection specialist, and a backflow tester.

Patsy Busick works in administration and human resources for the district.

Article by Neita Cecil
The Dalles Chronicle