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

PUD addressing misinformation about Skamokawa water


On Tuesday morning, Commissioner Dennis Reid addressed misinformation about the Wahkiakum County PUD’s plans to expand the water system in the Skamokawa area, General Manager Dave Tramblie gave an overview on costs to replace an aging Western Wahkiakum Water System, and Scott Wilson stopped by the Board of Commissioners meeting to talk about what was going on at Bonneville Power Administration.

“I’ve been putting out some fires down in Skamokawa, because there has been a lot of false information out there,” Reid said. “They are saying that we are going to force everyone to hook up to the system. We are not forcing anybody to do anything.”

“They are saying that the rates are going to be sky high for the existing customers on the water system because of all the money it’s going to cost to put in this expansion,” Reid added. “We aren’t spending any money. We’ve got a grant to do it and we’d be pretty stupid to turn the grant money down and not put this expansion in when we can do it for nothing, because at some point people are going to need the system. We’re getting it for free. People’s rates are not going to go up because of it.”

Reid said he’d also been asked about a drop box for payments in Rosburg.

“lt’s costly and it’s a liability,” Auditor Erin Wilson said. “It’s not something that the state auditor likes to see.”

Reid also said he had plans to speak with the Department of Commerce about what it would take to apply for a grant for the Deep River water system, noting that it would have to be sponsored by a governmental agency like the county. He asked the commissioners if they had any objections. There were none.

An aging Western Wahkiakum Water System was on General Manager Dave Tramblie’s mind. He shared some estimates for what it would cost to replace the 182,328 feet of PVC pipe that serves 330 customers in the system.

“Pretty much all of it was installed in the mid to late 1970s so it’s 40 years old,” Tramblie said.

With a 70 year life span in mind for the system, Tramblie estimates they would need to replace more than a mile of pipe every year for the next 30 years. He estimates that it would cost about $50,000 a year in material costs for a mile of pipe, another $40-50,000 a year in labor if they did it in-house, and $20,000 for equipment.

“So we are looking at $120,000 a year to replace about a mile of pipe for the next 30 years,” Tramblie said. “Realistically, we don’t have the resources to replace this much pipe.”

The project could keep the water crew busy all summer. On the other hand, Tramblie estimates the price would double if they contracted out.

“We have to decide how we’re going to handle the long range,” Tramblie said. “Do we need to assume our PVC is going to last another 60 years? Take that chance and try to replace half of what we’re talking about? And even at that you’re at $60,000 a year. That system doesn’t have that kind of money. We have to find some more money some place, just to keep our system from deteriorating around us.”

Commissioners approved a resolution to lower the WWWS reserve fund. Prior to the resolution, the reserves could not go below $40,000. The resolution will allow them to go as low as $20,000 for no longer than two years.

Finally, commissioners approved travel for Tramblie to attend a USDA Reconnect Program on Broadband in Welches on April 23-24, and Wilson spoke about the energy imbalance market at the request of Commissioner Gene Healy.


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