Wahkiakum PUD commissioners approved amendments to the Western Wahkiakum Water System comprehensive plan at their Tuesday meeting.
The state Department of Health requires water systems to update their comprehensive plan every six years.The comprehensive plan for Wahkiakum PUD’s Western Wahkiakum Water System (WWWS) came up for renewal this year, and the PUD contracted with engineering firm Gray and Osborne to prepare the document.
The board reviewed the document before approving it. Commissioner Bob Jungers questioned a query asking if WWWS has implemented a regular schedule of increases to system development fees.
“Of what interest is that to the Department of Health?” asked Jungers.
Manager Dave Tramblie and PUD Auditor Erin Wilson responded that the state has an interest in ensuring the financial stability of water systems.
Commissioner Dennis Reid noted that the comprehensive plan lays out an improvement schedule for the system. He suggested the PUD look into training a staff member as a grant writer. Obtaining grants could help fund construction projects on the aging system, said Reid.
Engineers Gray and Osborne, Inc., provide grant writing services to their clients, said Tramblie.
“In the past, we’ve done a lot of work in-house and we can get a lot done with a reasonable amount of revenue.When you ask for public funds, there are a lot of issues surrounding that. We can ask for grants and loans, but in my past experience, you don’t necessarily get the bang for the buck that you think you’re getting,” said Tramblie.
"But how else are we going to finance these improvements," said Reid. "We’re going to have to plan somehow to come up with the money," he added.
Western Wahkiakum Water System already has a large debt, said Tramblie. “It’s a real Catch-22,” he added.
The system development fee waiver currently in effect for new hookups to both water systems will expire on December 31 of this year. The commissioners decided to revisit the waiver at an upcoming meeting.