POLK COUNTY -- Polk County officials have considered tapping Adair Village in Benton County for future water needs.
They know that the tiny town south of Monmouth has a permit to draw enough Willamette River water for all of Polk County.
They just didn't know how it tasted.
That changed Feb. 7 when the county's commissioners toured the Adair Village water treatment plant. "We just wanted to see what the plant was like, if it worked, and to taste the water," said Commissioner Mike Propes.
The plant once served the former Camp Adair, when many more people needed a water source nearby. It has continued to serve over the years, though Adair Village uses only a small fraction of the plant's capacity.
"It seemed like a pretty smooth operation for the age of the plant," Propes said. "It was built during World War II, so I was expecting an antique."
Adair Village uses only half of the huge plant at full capacity -- but for short time periods. Polk County's needs could be met by using the operating half of the plant more, Propes said, with the other half as a backup.
Propes was surprised to see how well-maintained the plant was -- and how few people it took to keep it going. "I had a picture in my mind of a bunch of people running it, but it's clear and fairly simple to operate.
"It's basically a one-man operation."
County officials are in the early stages of finding a solution to local water shortages projected within a decade. Besides using water from Adair Village, the county and its cities and water groups could also build more reservoirs.
Propes said he's still not leaning toward either option. But now he knows for sure that Adair Village could work out.
"What surprised me most was the taste of the water coming out of that old plant. It didn't have any heavy chlorine taste to it."
He even brought some back with him. "It has a good taste to it."