The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD commission hears of notification problems


September 7, 2017

A customer made a request, reports were given, and several items were discussed and approved at Tuesday’s Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioner’s meeting.

A PUD customer who was having financial difficulties approached the commissioners about making an exception for her in regard to one of their policies.

The commissioners will revisit the matter at the next meeting, after they’ve had time to consider it.

General Manager Dave Tramblie reported that a customer had contacted him about the possibility of setting up a new large load for agricultural purposes, which would mean more business for the PUD.

In the early hours on Monday, there was an outage in Skamokawa. Tramblie said that the PUD had been notified by dispatch in the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office four hours after it happened, which was unusual. The crew responded and was able to complete repairs in less than two hours.

“We weren’t notified in a timely fashion,” Tramblie said. “The service has been good. This is the first time that the ball got dropped.”

Commissioner Dennis Reid expressed concerns for residents with health issues.

“Something that should have been an hour, or an hour and a half, took six hours,” Reid said.

Commissioners discussed how to address the matter.

Tramblie thanked Commissioner Bob Jungers, the owner of Elochoman Millworks, for providing professional drawings that will be used for the reception area in the PUD building. The drawings have been submitted for bids.

Tramblie notified the board that he had asked a consultant at Gray and Osborne to submit bid requests to several vendors for hardware and software upgrades at the western Wahkiakum well site.

“The hardware is outdated and its difficult to find new parts for it,” he said.

After another high pressure event in the water system on Puget Island, PUD crews found debris in a pressure regulator. Tramblie contacted the Town of Cathlamet, which provides the water for the Puget Island water system. One of the town’s hydrants located near the bridge was checked, and a lot of debris was found.

After flushing it out, it was much cleaner, Tramblie said.

“We’ve had three incidents of over-pressurization on our system due to debris in the water we are receiving from the town to these pressure regulator valves. Anything in the procedures that indicate a reason for increased debris?” Commissioner Bob Jungers asked.

Tramblie said he had spoken with a town employee who told him that they had had an issue with telemetry at the well site. They operated the well pumps differently in response, which may have caused the problem.

“That’s why we need to flush regularly,” Tramblie said. “We are required to flush twice a year by the Department of Health.”

“We assume they meet those standards,” Jungers said of the town.

“We pay a pile of money to them for that water and we are about to pay them some more,” Commissioner Gene Healy said. “I think at a minimum, if they’ve got to change the pumps or something, they should call you. I would insist on that.”

Reid asked if the high pressure events caused any damage in the system or for the users.

“The potential for civil liability could be catastrophic,” Jungers said.

Auditor Erin Wilson presented the preliminary 2018 budget to the commissioners, which they approved and will consider for future discussion, as they progress toward the final budget.

Commissioners gave reports before moving on to discussions about the water system for Skamokawa, West Side Water Works. The PUD had received a letter from Steve McClain, the WSWW secretary, about the possibility of having the PUD assist with water sampling, taking over the management of the water system, or acquiring the system.

After taking a tour, Tramblie said he talked to the Department of Health, which had made it clear that the water operator had chosen to resign, and that they needed a certified operator to replace him.

“I found out they do not put any chlorine in their water system,” Tramblie said of the WSWW. “I would chlorinate it yesterday, based on what I have. I think it’s in our best interest, and the community’s best interest if we move forward with some kind of assistance.”

“Is there any reason to believe that this is any different than any acquisition?” Healy asked. “Over the next 10 years, the same things are going to happen, no matter who operates it. Then we ought to operate it. That’s our job as a public utility. Those people are our fellow citizens and they deserve the best water and the best managed water system that they can afford.

The commissioners authorized Tramblie to investigate the matter further.

They also authorized the manager to sign the Intertie Agreement with Pacific County, adopted a new resolution which made revisions to the interlocal water supply contract between the Town of Cathlamet and the Puget Island Water System, and approved the new renewable energy system incentive program for Washington state.


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