Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD crews busy with line, leak repairs; budget work underway

The Wahkiakum PUD Board of Commissioners learned that crews have been busy on Altoona Road, got an update on the Skamokawa Water Project, and discussed the budget for 2021, before adopting a resolution to submit a grant application on Tuesday.

After a recent outage, the PUD decided to relocate an aging overhead line underground on Altoona Road because of the potential issue with falling trees in the area. General Manager Dave Tramblie believes the original line may have been erected in the 1950s.

Water crews discovered a minor leak at the Altoona Bridge after replacing a section of HDPE a few weeks ago at a valve installed in 1985, and even more recently a second leak on a coupling in the middle of the span, about 50 feet from the river’s edge.

The second leak is requiring a little extra thought. A large aerial device is needed to get to the coupling, or another device to get underneath the bridge. They are considering replacing the entire span with HDPE, and directional boring is another possibility.

“We’re working the problem,” Tramblie said.

The Skamokawa Water Project is going well, he added. The section in Sleepy Hollow has been completed, and the PUD was able to install three services on Monday.

“I think they are going to be on schedule,” Tramblie said.

The contractor has begun work on Steamboat Slough. Tramblie said the contractor has dug from the highway almost up to the bridge, and after receiving permission from the county, the four inch HDPE water main will go straight through the bridge instead of angling around the wing wall.

Auditor Erin Wilson went over the preliminary budget for next year. The cashflow for 2021 has currently been set at $5,384,300 made up of total revenues of $5,093,160 along with a transfer of $291,140 from reserve funds.

“We currently have $1.7 million in reserves,” Wilson said.

One of the changes for the coming year includes an increase to travel and training because the PUD has an apprentice and will need to pay for the apprenticeship program. Wilson also made an allowance for a two year audit with the State Auditor’s Office, which is expected to cost the PUD $32,000. They have set aside $200,000 in capital investments to replace two vehicles, a small bucket truck and a pickup truck, as well as $180,000 for pole testing.

Tramblie said he was also considering purchasing some new regulators.

A budget hearing is scheduled for the November 3 meeting.

Commissioner Dennis Reid reported that other PUDs have been talking about their financial losses during the pandemic.

“One utility said that the amount that they’d lost on late fees and reconnect fees had been $45,000 and that they had $320,000 past due at this time,” he said. “These things are really piling up, and it’s going to take some work to figure out how to get those things paid once this is over. It’s going to be a significant problem for a lot of PUDs.”

Broadband Consultant Steve Carson said that the PUD was continuing to work on getting grants for their proposed broadband project.

The commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing the submission of an application for a Community Economic Revitalization Board Rural Broadband Program grant for the Wahkiakum County broadband network project as a final bit of business before adjourning.


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