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

PUD deals with water system issues in Skamokawa


December 19, 2019

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday to listen to a conservation update and other reports, and approve the write off of some accounts as they do at the end of each year.

According to Lia Sealund, a customer service representative for the PUD, they have already pre-approved 41 percent of their budget for rebates in the current biennium, which began in October 2019, with a balance of $56,777 remaining for projects around the county.

“We’re definitely consuming a big chunk of it in lighting,” Sealund said of the expended budget. “We’ve given out rebates for ductless heat pumps, air source heat pumps, windows, insulation, and lighting already this fiscal period.”

They’ve added a new rebate program this biennium, heat pump water heaters.

Auditor Erin Wilson reported the results of the state audit, which had just been completed.

“They did a financial audit and an accountability audit,” Wilson said. “On the financial audit, there were no errors, no changes, it was a very clean audit.”

There were similar results for the accountability audit, but it was suggested that the PUD make some changes in segregation of duties regarding payroll and cash receipting.

Wilson gave an overview of the changes the PUD would be making to address those issues.

The PUD sent three samples from the Skamokawa Water System to a testing lab for routine testing last Wednesday, General Manager Dave Tramblie said. On Thursday, they were notified that one sample had come back positive for E. coli. The PUD decided to err on the side of caution and they issued a boil water notice.

Three new samples were delivered to the testing lab on Friday. The PUD was assured, Tramblie said, that they would be notified of the results the following day. They were not notified, and attempts to contact the lab were unsuccessful. On Monday, they called the lab and were told that the new results were satisfactory. The Department of Health was contacted and agreed that the boil water notice could be lifted.

Tramblie has directed staff to take water samples on Mondays and not Wednesdays in order to avoid another situation on a weekend.

Chlorination equipment will be included in the bid for the Skamokawa Water System expansion project, Tramblie said.

“I’m hopeful that this project is constructed close to the June 1st time frame,” Tramblie said. “If we were to initiate just the project to do the chlorine right now, I would imagine that we could probably have that completed in six weeks.”

The PUD could do it internally, but he’s not certain that they could use grant money to install the chlorination equipment at this time.

“It would be my druthers if we could advance that,” Commissioner Gene Healy said. “We don’t need any more of this.”

Conversation continued regarding the Skamokawa Water System expansion project which is being funded by a grant from the Department of Health.

“It appears that the grant...will not cover the cost to install the customer’s service pipe from the meter to the individual homes,” Tramblie said. “I believe that it is imperative that all customers that requested service get connected or we risk losing funding due to the Department of Health’s requirements.”

“I think it’s in our best interests to use the district’s resources to help these customers install their service pipe,” Tramblie continued.

“We told the people we would do this,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “To me it is important that we do what we said.”

Commissioner Bob Jungers agreed.

In other news, Tramblie noted that the Broadband Committee had discussed potential grant and loan possibilities with some representatives from a newly created broadband program.

Per a discussion at the last meeting about assisting the Town of Cathlamet while they look for a new public works supervisor, Tramblie said he had subsequently learned that the town had a Level 3 water treatment plant certified employee.

“The need for us to assist isn’t as great,” Tramblie said. “It’s probably a good idea to move forward with having some kind of agreement in place for emergencies.”

“The more I think about it, the more I think it’s a good idea,” Jungers said. “If nothing else to establish a closer relationship and a sense of cooperation with the town over our shared utility.”

Commissioners approved writing off 23 accounts totaling $3,555.56, due to bankruptcy, death, or for being unpaid. Accounts are forever due and customers must pay the amount in full before they can reconnect their service.

There is currently $389 available in the Residential Energy Assistance Program. The PUD started the year with $1,334 in the fund, according to Wilson. During the year, $2,478 was donated, and $3,423 was used.


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