Thursday, March 12, 2015

Water: Old Firehouses and our Dismal Snowpack

If the history of Safeways in town tells us a lot about development patterns, the same can be said for the history of our firehouses.

There's a likely pair of old firehouses about equally distant from downtown, and the sunny winter finally afforded a chance to take a picture of one of them.

Engine House Number 4, built 1931 - Firehouse Clinic today
This one is near Bush Park, at Liberty and Lincoln. It has been repurposed as a medical clinic.

A sharp-eyed reader has proposed that a building at Fairgrounds and Winter is a near-match, a firehouse of the same vintage. It looks a lot like a mirror image of this clinic building.

These are just about the same distance from the center of downtown as are the 1930s era Safeways, and they clearly served the same city areas. There's an interesting parallelism in scale here.

Do you know of other old and repurposed firehouses in town? It seems like there ought to be a firehouse like this on the east side somewhere, with an address in the 2000s or so.

(More on Salem's Fire Department history here.)

Fire Station #4, circa 1930 - via Oregon State Library
Water, Snowpack, and the Prospect of Drought

With all the vaccination talk in the air, and with recent fluoridation battles in Portland, it's hard not to think of the character in Dr. Strangelove, General Ripper, who is obsessed with water quality and the foreign substances we put into our bodies willingly or unwillingly.

You probably saw the article about our sunny, warm winter. It was the second-warmest on record - right behind the start of the Dust Bowl!

No snow: Second warmest winter
Our snowpack right now is at 8% of normal.

8% of normal snowpack right now - NRCS/USDA
There's a real prospect for meaningful drought this summer.

With climate change we will be seeing things like this more an more often.

Our sweet mountain tapwater, fed by snowpack, is increasingly under a quiet threat from warming, and it is not difficult at all to imagine having to go back to drinking water from the Willamette.

A big water main to serve industrial development
(from a year ago)
And yet for businesses that don't even exist here yet, we are potentially diverting that mountain tapwater from homes.

From last summer
I don't know how this all fits together exactly. Water's not a core interest here. But climate change is, and in general ways we are not thinking about our water supply and our wastewater treatment adequately in terms of climate change and in terms of withstanding a big earthquake.
EOA-HNA draft Report - Jan 2015
(graph added from CO2 Now)


Anonymous said...

The City of Salem sent out a notice this afternoon:

"Record Low Snowpack Likely to Impact Summer Flows in the North Santiam River - 05/11/15
The City of Salem is closely monitoring short- and long-term forecasts for water supply in the North Santiam River. Snowpack across Oregon, including the Willamette Basin, has set new records for the lowest snowpack levels in over 30 years. Lack of snowpack and a relatively dry spring will likely impact summer flows in the North Santiam River. City staff, in collaboration with other stakeholders, continues to closely monitor forecasts and evaluate the potential effect on river flows.

At this time, the City of Salem does not anticipate low river levels impacting the City's ability to produce drinking water at the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility. In addition to closely monitoring North Santiam River levels, City staff collects water quality data and surveys algal activity weekly at Detroit Lake, the North Santiam River, and the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility. This proactive monitoring program allows staff to optimize water treatment operations to ensure reliable, safe drinking water is produced and delivered to Salem water customers.

Salem water customers can do their part by using water efficiently this summer. Water consumption can double when the warm and dry weather arrives, mostly due to outside water use activities such as lawn watering and car washing. Conserving water reduces water demand and allows more water to remain in the North Santiam River for other municipal water users, fish and wildlife, and recreational users.

The City of Salem can help you conserve water by providing water conservation kits, informational handouts, and more. The City also has "One Inch per Week" water gauges that can be used to prevent over watering your lawn - a typical lawn in Salem only needs one inch of water per week to stay green. If you have questions or concerns about water use and conservation, would like a water conservation kit or water gauge, or would like more information about how you can help conserve water at your home or business, please call the Water Quality Hotline at 503-588-6323."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the update, Anon.

Also! Found a vintage photo of firehouse #4, so inserted that into the text.