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

PUD board addresses water systems


September 6, 2018

Water rights and an aging Western Wahkiakum Water System were the hot topics at the Wahkiakum PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Mike Johnson, an engineer from Gray & Osborne was on hand to talk to the commissioners about the process of obtaining water rights for a possible well on Puget Island.

“It is a potential option for a diversifying source of supply for the Puget Island water system since you currently purchase all your water from the Town of Cathlamet,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that issues for consideration include:

• Whether to drill a well or use surface water.

• Where to locate the well?

• What kind of water are you going to get?

• How much water are you anticipating drawing?

Johnson suggested that they first have a hydrogeological investigation completed, then drill a well at a selected site to learn more about the quality and quantity of the water there, and finally, apply for a water right.

The conversation turned to the aging Western Wahkiakum Water System, which General Manager Dave Tramblie said was installed in the 1970s.

“I think you’ve made a fair bit of progress on water loss on that end in the past 5-10 years, but it’s still not easy to get down to the 10 percent threshold that the Department of Health would prefer to see,” Johnson said.

Tramblie said water losses on that system are currently at 25-30 percent, and the types of leaks they are finding are “all over the board.”

“We’ve got a handful of projects that we’ve identified there,” Johnson said. “Do you want to replace that system in 50 years? 40 years? 20 years?”

“We’d like to do it in 10 years, but I don’t think we can afford it,” Tramblie said.

The PUD is trying a different approach to locate leaks on the Westend, Tramblie said, shutting off meters and valves, isolating sections and looking for a “bleed off” on pressure.

“This seems to be a pretty effective way,” Tramblie said. “I think the guys are happy with this new approach.”

He noted that customers were responding favorably to the crew’s request to shut off water for a short time while they looked for leaks.

“Is it possible to design a pipe replacement program, without dates, and use your expertise to prioritize it, break it into chunks that might be affordable or that you can toss to us to try to figure out how to get the money?” Commissioner Gene Healy asked. “I guess my goal with something like this is that in five years we’re not in the same spot. We should make some headway.”

“We can do that,” Tramblie said.

Commissioners approved preliminary 2019 budgets for the PUD’s three systems. The budget for the Electric System is currently set at $4,489,925. The budget for the Puget Island Water System equals $350,350, and the Western Wahkiakum Water System’s budget is set at $355,850. No rate increases are planned at this time.

Commissioners also approved a resolution regarding the revised cost of production, depreciation schedule, lump sum adjustment factor, and water rate with the Town of Cathlamet for the TOC/Puget Island Water System interlocal water supply contract. The PUD agreed to pay the town $2.3662 per 100 cubic feet of water for 2019 which is a little bit less than the $2.6725 per 100 cubic feet of water for 2018.

Finally, the commissioners approved travel for Jim Jespersen, who will attend a water workshop in Suquamish in late September.


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