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

PUD handles water, budget, other issues

 

October 11, 2018



By Diana Zimmerman

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners listened to reports, and went over the preliminary budget for 2019 on October 2.

Jim Jespersen of the water crew was in attendance to share what he had learned at a recent conference. The PUD has been transitioning to automated meter reading meters, and the technology, which cuts down on the amount of time employees spend reading meters manually, solves one problem but creates another.

Meters are “disappearing,” Jesperson said.

“AMR water meters, when we were reading them manually,” Jesperson said, “we were there every month and were able to maintain the area around them to read the meters, or find where the meter boxes were pretty easily; now they are disappearing on us.”

Several ideas to solve the issue were discussed, including the use of paint, placing stakes, using GPS, or doing an annual audit.

“We do it when we have time,” Tramblie said, noting that one employee had spent six hours that week removing foliage from meters on Puget Island.

Commissioner Dennis Reid expressed some frustration about water loss was reported to commissioners, which may lead to some changes.

General Manager David Tramblie followed by reporting that three leaks had been found in the Western Wahkiakum Water System recently using a pressure testing method.

“That seems to be one of our better tools,” Tramblie said. “It’s more labor intensive but it provides a more accurate way of pinpointing them. The good news they are finding them. The bad news is that we are spending a lot of time on that system.”

Tramblie said that consultants at Gray and Osborne were helping the PUD apply for grants to extend the Skamokawa Water System and provide chlorination to the entire system.

“Can we find a grant to extend the Western Wahkiakum Water System?” Reid asked.

“That would be an effort we should pursue. I’ve been led to believe there is funding for this project,” Tramblie said.

Tramblie reported that they had received bids for a new transformer for Grays River substation. He said that Brown and Kysar engineers were evaluating them, and that the bids ranged between $250,000 to $340,000 for the cost of the transformer and delivery.

Auditor Erin Wilson said that the Residential Energy Assistance Program had provided $1,676 in assistance so far in 2018, and that there currently was $776 available.

She went over the proposed 2019 budgets for the electric, Puget Island Water and Western Wahkiakum Water systems.

Built into the electric budget are wages and benefits for an additional employee for half a year.

“We talk about how many more years we’ve all got here,” Wilson said. “In not that many years it’s going to be kind of a new place around here.”

“I think I can safely say that this would be part of a succession plan,” Tramblie said.

They also budgeted $32,500 in the Western Wahkiakum Water System to replace current meters with AMR meters.

Commissioners approved travel for Tramblie to attend a Noanet conference in Spokane in mid-October.

David Blalock and Pat Conrad of Smoky Waters Communications attended the meeting to express interest in the broadband project.

 

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