FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions


If you do not see the information you need, refer to our City Government page and contact the appropriate department.  If you have any suggestions on information you would like included below, please email apclerk@kalama.com.   

  • Chlorine Smell - Why?

    The City constantly chlorinates the water.  The times when a customer smells chlorine, usually it is not that too much chlorine has been added, but that the water in the pipes has been sitting and the smell is created as the chlorine starts to dissipate.  Public Works flushes out pipes once a month to get water moving through some of these passive pipes.

  • Copper Pipes

    Occasionally the City will get a call about the water leaving a blue residue.  The blue is the result of the customer=s copper pipes.  The customer should let the water run until it runs cold, and then the water would be OK to use.  At that point it would be a good idea to fill a pitcher full of water and have it on hand.  The problem will eventually clear up.

  • Downspouts

    Rain water from downspouts has to be piped to the street, and can not be piped to the sewer.

  • Electrical Inspections

    Anything electrical, the citizen needs to call State Labor & Industries for inspections.  Unless the work involves something structural, the City does not require a permit.  

  • Elevation

    A GIS database indicates the elevation of downtown is 20 feet, Greystone is between 200-240 feet, and Star Road (three miles up China Garden Road) is 1100 feet. 

  • Fences
    City needs to see fence plans.  They can be ON the property line.  Cannot be sight obscuring unless it meets setback.  Fences cannot be over 3' high in front yard if site obscuring - but if mesh fence can be up to 6' in the front yard 
  • Flood Zone
    FEMA Flood Zone C - Community Panel 530289 0001A/Effective 6/1/81.
  • Gas Fireplace
    Customer wants to install gas fireplace.  Needs to apply for gas/piping permit. 
  • How Do I Dispose of Sharps Needles

    Used Sharps may not be disposed of in the garbage container because they are considered a biohazard.  Waste Control has a free drop off for the Sharps on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

  • How far do accessory buildings have to be from property lines?

    Accessory buildings have to be 8 feet from the residence and 5 feet from the rear yard property line.

  • How is building height determined?

    Building height is from grade level at the front of the home to the highest point - maximum is 35 feet.

  • Is a Permit Needed to Hook Up to Sewer?

    A permit is not required to hook up to the City's sewer system; however, you need to contact the Public Works Department (360) 673-3706 and let them know.  Public Works will advise whether or not a pump system will be required and the location of the City sewer line.  Sometimes the sewer line is on the opposite side of the road and it would be necessary to bore under the road.  The customer would be responsible for these costs in addition to the hookup charge.

  • Leaves
    Leaves from trees on private property are the property owner’s responsibility.  
  • Lot Line Adjustment
    If a customer has land where it is already divided into lots and he just wants to move the lines around - it=s a Boundary Line Adjustment.  If the customer has one parcel - that had no divisions on it - it is a Small Lot Sub-Division.  If the customer wants to develop in R1 with less than 7,500 square foot lots, he can do a small lot development.  
  • Meter Pressure
    Many cities run 30 to 40 pounds of pressure.  Usually a "pressure problem"  is actually a volume problem caused by restrictions in the pipe or plugged screen on the tap.  Always ask if the pressure problem is at all fixtures, and if it is constant or intermittent.  If it is not at all fixtures, it is probably a screen problem.  There could also be a plug in the waterline or the meter screen.  If a residence is running over 80 psi, they are required to have a pressure reducing valve.  
  • Pool Water

    Called the Fire Department for clarification (6/06).  They said the customer needs to get a Fire Hydrant permit from the City and pay for it.  Once they have a permit, the Fire Department will provide water.  From Council minutes 7/3/96 - no water will be used to fill swimming pools until it runs through a meter, but if the water is removed for fire protection, it will be refilled without charge.  This will be coordinated with the Director of Public Works.  Prior to that:  Per Council minutes dated 6/16/82, "Fire Chief...drew up a form to be signed by the citizen and the fire department allowing a pool to be filled on a one-time basis, at no charge, in exchange for use as an emergency reservoir...there should be no fee because it was in everyone's best interest to have these pools available for emergency water supplies."

  • Pressure Relief Valves

    When people call regarding a pressure regulator problem, apparently there are a couple of pressure release valves.  There is one on the meter, and one recent call stated they had replaced the one on the water heater several times.  Although the City initially puts the one on the meter in, it is on the customer's side of the meter and up to them to replace it.  They can get the part from any hardware store. 

  • Rusty Water
    If customer complains about rusty water and air in lines, have them turn on an outside faucet to allow the lines to clear. 
  • Sewer Smell

    When customer turned on water there was a sewer smell.  It could be the pea traps are dry.  Run water down all the pipes and the smell should go away.

  • Snow Load

    Snow Load is 25 lbs per square foot.  Wind MPH = 90; exposure is average "B"; seismic zone = D3; FEMA Flood Zone C - Community Panel 530289 0001A/Effective 6/1/81.  Frost level - There must be 6 inches of soil over the top of the footing.  

  • STEP Sewer Light

    Got a call from a customer on Taylor Road.  She said her STEP system was cleaned out last week and now a red light is on.  Public Works said this is a low-level light.  The tanks are 1200-1500 gal - so it will take awhile for the light to go out.  

  • Water - Cloudy - Affect on Consumption

    Sometimes after a line has broken and the City needs to shut off water there will be air in the lines.  One way the customer can see if this is the problem is to fill a glass with water and let it set.  If the "stuff" settles to the bottom it is air in the line and the customer needs to run the water to clear it up.  

    Faucets left on can run 5-15 gallons a minute.  If it ran an hour at 15 gallons a minute, it could run about an hour and equal 100 cubic feet.  Outside hoses could probably run up to 15 gallons a minute maximum.


  • Water Meters

    Are set to handle 15-20 gallons a minute.  Normal install is 5/8" x 3/4" meters.  Homes over 3400 square feet will require 3/4" x 3/4"

  • Water Softness
    Kalama has very soft water - 18-25 (see Consumer Confidence Report). 
  • Why is my water cloudy?

    Cloudy water is the result of air in the line - probably just after a repair of a line.  (That=s why customers are advised to keep their cold water open a little when they know a repair is going to be made.)  The air displaces water in the line and will settle in some areas of the line.  It eventually goes away.  The test is to take a glass of water and set it on the counter. Within 30 seconds it should clear up.