Coquille River Flooding

Flood water Wednesday swamps Fish Trap Road between Arago and Coquille.

COQUILLE — The City of Coquille is continuing to monitor its water system for possible spikes of turbidity (cloudiness) levels following this week’s increased rainfall.

Coquille Public Works Director Kevin Urban said at this point the rain has not created any new impact to the city’s current water supply, the Rink Creek Reservoir, and its turbidity levels have steadily decreased since lifting its boil water advisory last month.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for low-lying areas in Coos County along the Coquille River including parts of Coquille and Myrtle Point. With the increased rainfall, the river’s water level reached 23.3 feet which is above its flood stage level of 21 feet.

According to the weather alert, commuters have been advised to avoid driving through flooded areas or roads as the water may be too deep to safety navigate through. The moderate flooding is expected to recede sometime late Thursday evening.

The rain on Wednesday washed out Oregon Highway 42 South, closing it five miles east of Bandon. According to an alert from the Oregon Department of Transportation, there is no estimate available for re-opening the highway.

"Motorists traveling between Bandon and Coquille are advised to use alternate routes," the alert advised.

In March, a number of Coquille city officials examined its reservoir in an attempt to locate the cause of its increased cloudiness. A large volume of water, which was attributed to February’s winter storm, passed through the reservoir at a high rate of speed and kicked up a buildup of silt.

“The reservoir is nearly a century old,” said Urban. “It’s had 100 years to build up silt and a lot of that buildup is where the creek enters the reservoir. Naturally the silt runoff comes with the creek.”

The department is currently working on a master water plan in which the city engineer and staff will further examine the reservoir and fully determine its future.

According to Urban, sounding measurements will be taken by the end of this week to figure out how deep the silt buildup is and if it’s possible to remove it.

Another approach would be for the city to purchase a new water filter system which would capture tiny, fine silt particles found in its raw water and eliminate them before it ever enters its treatment facility. It’s estimated to cost about $600,000 to install the new filters.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for low-lying areas in Coos County along the Coquille River including parts of…

“We will know a whole lot more when the master water plan is done which should be before June,” said Urban. “We’ll then budget for any additional engineering that we way need to solve this problem.”

A water sample was recently sent to a company that manufactures water filters to best assess what type of filter the city may need if it chooses to purchase them in the future.

In the event another boil water advisory is issued, Urban said the city has prepared itself by securing two large-scale containers which combined can hold about 1,500 gallons of water. According to Urban, the city would seek assistance from the Myrtle Point Water Treatment facility in filling those containers.

“We thank Myrtle Point because that’s a big help when you have a nearby city that you can go to and work with on getting those tanks filled up,” he said.

The city will switch its water supply from the Rink Creek Reservoir to the Coquille River sometime in the summer or when its water levels lower and the rainy season comes to an end.

“We will test the river like everything else we do that comes into the plant,” said Urban. “It’s a bit of a waiting game as we don’t always know exactly when we’ll make that switch back to the river.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.