The municipal water in Harbor has turned brackish again, and potable water should be available for free at the Harbor Water District Tuesday, Harbor Water officials said Monday afternoon.

The water district offices are at 98069 W. Benham Lane.

Salinity levels at the community’s Raney collector system registered at 1,500 microsiemens (ms) Monday, up from 500 ms two weeks ago. Anything above 800 ms is considered brackish, said water Superintendent Herman Bloemsma.

Water started going salty about two weeks ago, he said, but a rainstorm shortly thereafter flushed the salt out. Since then, warm weather and a lack of rain have contributed to the lower water levels in the Chetco River, from which Brookings and Harbor draw their municipal water.

The water gets brackish when low water levels in the Chetco River coincides with higher-than-normal tides. The low water volume in the riverbed then allows saltwater to flow upstream from the ocean. Full moons can also exacerbate the situation.

The tides aren’t unusually high, Bloemsma said. But the water level in the Chetco River is flowing at 77 cubic feet per second, as measured by a U.S. Geological Survey gauge upriver.

Bloemsma was working Monday afternoon to secure permits from the city of Brookings to take water from its hydrants; he expected free water to be available for Harbor water customers by Tuesday morning.

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