Brackish Water Treatment for Native American and Small Communities in the Pacific Northwest Region

Project ID: 1282
Principal Investigator: Steve Dundorf
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004
Keywords: None

Research Question

To determine and demonstrate the most appropriate water treatment technology for Native American and small communities along the Pacific shore of Washington State. This will be accomplished using the treatment of the Quinault Tribes water supply.

Need and Benefit


The problem that this research helps to solve is the supply of drinking water to Native Americans in need. Ground waters along the coast of Washington are impaired with salt water infiltration, arsenic, iron, manganese that exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory limits. Small communities with impaired drinking water include Kalaloach, Queets, Tuby and Rialto Beech, La Push, and Ocean Shores. Native American communities such as the Quinault, the Hoh, the Shoalwater Bay, the Quileute, the Makah, and the Ozette have similar problems. Test results from a well on the Quinault Indian reservation in October 2000 showed chlorides at 496 milligrams per liter (mg/L) (Maximum Contaminant Level Goal [MCLG]: 250), total trihalomethanes at 165 mg/L (Maximum Contaminant Level [MCL]: 80), iron at 3 mg/L (MCLG: 0.3), manganese at 0.2 mg/L (MCLG: 0.05), and color at 42 units (MCLG: 15). In addition, the water is very hard at 300 mg/L as calcium carbonate (CaCO) (v3). A sampling event this year showed the total trihalomethanes to be more than four times the legal limit and haloacetic acids to be more than eight times the legal limit. The various exceedences indicate a need to significantly improve their drinking water treatment process and/or water source.

The Quinault Tribe has addressed the possibility of obtaining water from nearby small towns such as Ocean Shores, but it was determined to be too expensive in pipeline and pump station costs. In addition, the water supply at Ocean Shores is not large enough to accommodate the Quinault Tribe. The Quinault Tribe and other small communities along the coast do not have the technical resources available to solve these problems. The Quinault Tribe has paid various local engineering consultants substantial portions of their budget to solve their problem but have not been successful to date. Financial resources from these small communities for hiring consultants is often very limited. The Quinault Tribe turned to Reclamation for help, including meeting with the Commissioner earlier this year.


This project fits Reclamation's mission of developing water as it focuses on the treatment of water in existing designated water supplies and developing new sources of water.

This project directly fits the Science and Technology (S&T) Program goals of being the "Best in the West" at facilitating the use of new scientific and technical solutions that contribute significantly to safe, affordable, sustainable, and ample water. This project will provide a solution that makes a difference, and our client will be thrilled that we have found a solution while others have failed.

One of the WS2 output area 5-year goals is to complete one mobile trailer project each year for rural/Native American communities water treatment needs, which is exactly what this project entails. This falls under the research need of Pilot Studies for Small and Native American Communities.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Not Reviewed

The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.

Brackish Water Treatment for Native American and Small Communities in the Pacific Northwest Region - Final Report (final, PDF, 12KB)
By Steve Dundorf
Report completed on June 06, 2014

This project was cancelled.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20