Skamokawa water expansion nearly complete
December 3, 2020
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners got an update on the water consolidation project in Skamokawa, discussed a variety of issues, and agreed on Tuesday that they would not accept an award offered by the Public Works Board to fund a portion of the broadband project in eastern Wahkiakum County.
General Manager Dave Tramblie said there were two customers left to connect in the Skamokawa consolidation project.
“I got a really nice email from one of the customers, who said he’d had the best shower he’s had in years. The pressure is up,” Tramblie said.
He said that there was an issue with the equipment that pumps chlorine into that water system. The PUD is monitoring the system and will be adding chlorine manually until it is resolved. He also added that the Skamokawa Fire Department requested that the PUD put in two hydrants, one in Sleepy Hollow and one in Steamboat Slough.
“When they made that request, we’d already completed the project in Sleepy Hollow, so no provisions were made for a hydrant,” Tramblie said. “When we were still in the process of installing the pipe on Steamboat Slough, I had a contractor install a T, and the valving required for a hydrant in that area.”
The fire department has agreed to reimburse the PUD for the cost of the two new hydrants and the new T and valve in Sleepy Hollow, which will require them to go back in to make changes.
Commissioner Gene Healy said that the PUD had been invited to participate in the wi-fi project in the downtown corridor. Their participation would add the service to River Street.
Tramblie said that Steve Carson, a partner in the project, would ensure that the PUD area, including River Street, the rear area of the courthouse and the post office would be served by the system.
Cathlamet Town Council Member David Olson said it would probably cost the PUD less than $600 a year if they decided to participate in the project already supported by Wahkiakum County, the Town of Cathlamet, Wahkiakum County Port 1, and the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce, which is set to provide wi-fi down Main Street down to the Elochoman Slough Marina.
Tramblie revisited the award offer from the Public Works Board for a portion of the broadband infrastructure the PUD hopes to bring to the east side of the county. The PUD had applied for $5.5 million in funding, hoping for a grant from PWB to provide broadband to every home on Puget Island and in the Skamokawa area. PWB offered approximately $800,000 in grants and another $4 million in loans.
“I don’t think its in our rate payers best interest to take on that large of debt,” Tramblie said.
The commissioners agreed.
An email will be sent to the PWB to notify them of the PUD’s decision.
At the last meeting Commissioner Dennis Reid asked if the PUD had received any CARES Act funding from the county to help their customers.
Auditor Erin Wilson said she had sent emails to all three county commissioners about the matter the day after the last PUD meeting, but had not received a reply.
“I think we’re probably not going to. It’s too bad,” Reid said. “I thought that was how the CARES money was supposed to be used, to help the people.”
Wilson went over some PUD statistics, including losses due to leaks, which she said were improving system wide.
“The Western Wahkiakum Water System has gotten a lot better this year,” Wilson said. “Our losses used to be well over 30 percent on a consistent basis. Last year in October it was at 26 percent, but we’ve seen that steadily decline because of improvements to the system.”
“Management and the water department really need to be congratulated on that,” Reid said.
Healy said that next Tuesday, at 11 a.m., a Zoom call was scheduled with county commissioners and the PUD, to tell the new representatives of Legislative District 19, who were expected to be in attendance, the story of Wahkiakum broadband, and to encourage them to get money in the proper funds, “so we are not faced with these tough decisions about huge loans,”
Commissioners authorized the write offs of accounts totaling $2845.26. The accounts are unlikely to be collected because of death or other reasons.
They closed for an executive session to discuss potential litigation.