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

Wahkiakum water woes a problem


February 8, 2018

To The Eagle:

At last, a crystal-clear snapshot of the sewer segment of the Wahkiakum water woes (front page headliner in last week’s Eagle). Using the data from that story, a minute on your family abacus will show that a $588,000 annual obligation divided among 408 customers is $1439 each, or 120 bucks a month, which is a bit much for a village sewer system. The unavoidable stone wall that consultant RosAna Noval hit is that if any customers pay less, others will have to pay more, so no matter what arbitrary payment categories are set up, it will be unfair to some, because it’s too much to start with.

The other stone wall, that town officials are up against, is that the $288,000 debt payment is an inescapable fixed obligation, and the $300,000 maintenance expense is pretty minimal and doesn’t offer any significant wiggle room. A decade ago, when the water/sewer battles were going full blast, some of us advocated rehabbing the old sewer pond and getting as many customers as possible off onto independent systems including septic systems, dry wells, incinerating and composting toilets, and catchment water. The pond option is now long gone, and some individuals could still cobble together independent systems, but that wouldn’t help the town’s problem and would raise rates for those remaining in their system.

Another alternative would be to have the PUD take over all water/sewer functions for the area, but the PUD has rightfully demurred because of the inherent unfairness in requiring outlying communities and homesteads to pay for the town’s financial misadventures. The county commissioners are flirting with the idea of yet another Economic Development Council, but the previous incarnation of that egregious idea played a large role in getting us into this mess in the first place. I hasten to add that our local officials, town, county, and PUD are rock stars compared with their counterparts in surrounding communities, but they are battered and held on a short leash by various state bureaucracies, in the case at hand, departments of Health and Ecology.

What we need, obviously, is a state level version of Donald Trump.

Howard Brawn

Puget Island


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