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

PUD planning water main upgrades


Last month, one of the Wahkiakum County PUD’s water systems was showing a substantial loss in distribution, General Manager Dave Tramblie told the board of commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday.

The water crew looked for a leak but wasn't able to track it down. When they revisited the data this month, the losses were much smaller.

Tramblie said he had considered installing bypass meters as a possible solution, making it easier to find and address large leaks when they happen, but ultimately decided it would be more cost effective to replace pipe.

He told the board that the PUD will install 4,000 feet of four inch HDPE pipe and replace old underground open concentric cable on Covered Bridge Road in the next two to three weeks.

“It’s not the entire road, but it’s a big chunk of it. Doing both of them at the same time will get the best bang for our buck,” Tramblie said.

The PUD will upgrade 600-800 feet of pipe to HDPE on East Sunny Sands Road while the Corps of Engineers and the diking district complete another project there.

From there, they plan to continue work farther down East Sunny Sands Road, upgrading a section of concrete asbestos to HDPE.

“That is the last significant section of concrete asbestos pipe we have on the island,” Tramblie said.

More projects are planned in Skamokawa and on Satterlund Road in Grays River.

“Our focus will be to replace a lot of pipe this year,” Tramblie said. “The last 24 years we’ve been trying to upgrade the electric. It’s time to get some pipe in the ground. The way we’ve realigned the finances, I think it allows us some flexibility.”

Tramblie also said that the PUD would reevaluate this month whether or not the office should remain closed to the public.

“We need to kind of wait and see if this abates or not, continues downward or spikes again,” Tramblie said of covid-19 case numbers.

“The FCC awarded funds to CCO Holdings to provide high speed broadband to four of the five census blocks in Wahkiakum County,” Steve Carson, the broadband consultant for the PUD told the board. "The other census block, which includes West Valley Road, was awarded to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. They will be paying them funds over the next 10 years to provide high speed internet in our county. They have a four, six, eight and 10 year requirement to complete their project in order to get the funds. It’s a long and complicated process but that money was allocated, which could further complicate the PUD’s desire to do a broadband project."

“Complicate or alleviate,” Commissioner Bob Jungers replied.

“CCO Holdings is a parent organization for Charter/Spectrum,” Carson said. “Based on how Spectrum has infiltrated our county in the past few months, I anticipate they are going to make a play for the island and Skamokawa and east county.”

Auditor Erin Wilson gave an update on the Residential Energy Assistance Program. On Jan. 1, the PUD had $58. Since then they’ve received $2,912 in donations, and pledged $2,393. There is currently $577 available.

“I think our newsletter with the information in it helped a lot,” Wilson said. “People have been very generous.”

The Town of Cathlamet has nearly completed their portion of the paperwork required for a grant awarded by the Department of Commerce for a high power electrical charging station that will be located on their property on Butler Street, Councilman David Olson told the PUD. He expects the town to approve the contract in April.

Tramblie said that he hoped to order the necessary transformer to provide power to the new station next week.

“Thanks for helping us stay ahead of the game,” Olson said.

The meeting was closed for an executive session to discuss personnel issues.


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