Wahkiakum PUD commissioners acted on a surplus vehicle request, a water contract with the town, and discussed other business at a brief meeting Tuesday morning.
They later attended the county commissioners’ meeting to hear a presentation from a Deep River resident concerning expansion of the Western Wahkiakum Water System.
Commissioners approved a resolution declaring a water department truck to be a surplus item. It will be sold at public auction by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.
The old truck has been replaced by one formerly used by PUD Manager Dave Tramblie. The utility recently purchased a vehicle for his use.
The water system has four new meters left to install from the large number of customers that took advantage of a one-year suspension of the $3500 system development fee required for new hookups. That program, intended to attract new water customers to the Puget Island and Western Wahkiakum Water Systems, ended December 31, 2012.
In November and December, the PUD received payment for 12 new water meter installations.
Tramblie told the commissioners that he had recently become aware of an opportunity that would allow the PUD to replace electrical conduit along Oneida Road in Deep River at a reduced cost to the utility.
Wahkiakum West has a contractor installing telephone conduit along 3500 feet of Oneida Road, the site of a stretch of underground electrical line scheduled for replacement in the near future.
“It seemed like the appropriate time for us to try to work something out with them to get conduit installed also,” said Tramblie.
He explained that digging in the area would be more complicated if done in the future because of the conduit currently being installed, so he made sure the contractor was signed up on the PUD’s small works roster and will have him install the PUD’s electrical conduit as well.
The project should be completed in a few days at a fairly minor expense, Tramblie said.
The commissioners also took action on documents required for the utility’s contract to purchase water from the Town of Cathlamet to supply its Puget Island Water System.
The contract between the two entities requires them to annually determine and approve a cost of production, a basic rate, a lump sum adjustment factor for the prior year, amendments to asset depreciation schedules, and a district percentage for the prior year.
The 2013 basic rate for water delivered by the town to the district was approved at $1.7325 per 100 cubic feet. That number is based on the agreed cost of production plus ten percent.
At the county commissioners’ meeting later on Tuesday morning, Deep River resident Pam Anderson spoke as a representative of a group of Deep River residents who wish to connect to the Western Wahkiakum Water System. She said that Tramblie had contacted the residents last November to inquire if they were still interested in connecting to the system.
They are, Anderson said, but obtaining the funding for system expansion is a barrier. Anderson said the residents hope to collect donations for the project. They will send out letters and have donation jars available at local businesses, she said.
She asked if the county could match collected donations.
Commissioner Blair Brady, who represents Western Wahkiakum County, said “I’d love to see you guys get water. But first off, I think this is a PUD issue, and we don’t have the funds to match donations at this time. However, I think the county would be remiss in not offering to assist, perhaps by offering legal advice.”
Brady said he has informed the area’s federal delegation about the situation. He suggested that Anderson and her neighbors keep track of the time they spend working on gathering donations, as that information can occasionally be used in lieu of matching funds on grant applications.
“How many people are you looking at and what’s the cost?” asked Commissioner Mike Backman.
Anderson said one section, from Salmon Creek Road to West Dike Road, would cost around $200,000 and would reach six possible customers.
Tramblie said only three of those residents had expressed a strong commitment to him, and that the lack of customer density and the high cost of expansion were issues.
He and the PUD’s engineer have discussed the potential project in the past, including determining a possible route. They estimated that the project could be done in-house for several hundred thousand dollars, while the cost could rise to $450,000 if the project went out for bid.
The water system isn’t in a financial position to take on more debt, said PUD commissioner Dennis Reid.
“We’re not ignoring the problem; we wish we could do something about it,” he said.
“I was hoping that when the Department of Fish and Wildlife took over the boat launch on Oneida Road, they might want to have water. That may still be an avenue at some point,” said Brady.
“If money were not an issue, I’d like to see you get the water,” said Commissioner Dan Cothren.