To The Eagle:
In last week’s Eagle, PUD Commissioner Bob Jungers maligned Cathlamet’s water system. He said: “One of the reasons they are in financial difficulty with their system is because their infrastructure has decayed to the point that their water losses are so high that they are manufacturing a lot of water that they’re not selling.”
Respectfully, Mr. Jungers lives in a glass house. In Cathlamet’s most recent Annual Performance Report submitted to the Dept. of Health, our 3-year loss rate (2009-11) was 17.4 percent. In the PUD’s Annual Performance Report submitted to the DOH for the Puget Island water subsystem, the reported loss rate for 2009-11 was 17.5 percent. In contrast to Mr. Jungers’ assertion, we’re doing slightly better than the PUD.
To be fair, neither the town nor the PUD comes close to DOH’s ideal 10 percent loss rate for small water systems. Indeed, when I met with Mr. Jungers last year to discuss areas of cooperation, my list included a joint effort to reduce system loss. Unfortunately, the PUD has played hide and seek on this and other issues. Sadly, the lack of cooperation results in higher costs to consumers.
As for the Cathlamet-PUD water contract, we have documented a sizeable annual windfall to the PUD resulting from defects in the current contract. The PUD’s decision not to draft a written response to this claim is likely a result of the fact that they have no cogent response other than to admit that the town is correct.
Water system reforms are unavoidable. The town remains committed to discussing necessary changes--as well as strategies to further cooperation--in a mutually respectful manner.