Wahkiakum PUD commissioners approved water rate increases for customers from both the Puget Island and Western Wahkiakum Water Systems at their meeting July 6. Commissioner Bob Jungers commented that because of a locked door, the Western Wahkiakum Water System rate hearing scheduled for June 29 was held on the tailgate of his truck, and low attendance meant “(the tailgate) wasn’t overcrowded.” He said he interpreted a lack of public comment at that event to mean that Westend residents were satisfied that the rate increases were necessary. Commissioner Larry Reese urged Jungers not to take low attendance as a vote of favor. Commissioner Gregg countered that water system customers were well informed and knew that system leakage issues needed to be addressed and that system improvements would come at a cost.
Having received customer comments at the rate hearings, the commissioners approved the proposed rate increases effective July 1. Rates for Puget Island water system customers will be $1.87 per 100 cubic feet of water with a basic monthly charge ranging from $36.09 to $52.59 dependent on meter size. Western Wahkiakum Water system customers will be charged a basic month rate of $44.85 to $98.40 with a cost of $1.44 per 100 cubic feet of water. Effective January 1, 2011, Western Wahkiakum water rates will go up again to $2.05 for 100 cubic feet of water with a basic monthly rate of $46.35-$99.90.
Commissioners also approved a contract with Innerpole Investigations to bore and sound all utility poles older than 15 years and to inspect visually all newer poles. Originally, the project was to be spread out over two fiscal years owing to the cost, but because Innerpole’s bid was 30 percent under Manager Dave Tramblie’s initial estimate, Tramblie urged for this year’s contract to cover all utility poles in the system.
Auditor Erin Wilson reported she had received interest from many households regarding a program that would install heat pump water heaters in residential homes to study the appliance’s energy efficiency but very few customers met the strict eligibility criteria. Staff will do site visits on homes that did meet the criteria and then submit their names to the organization running the program. Wilson also reported that 16 refrigerators or freezers have been decommissioned through a rebate program for the purchase of energy efficient appliances.