PUD moves ahead with application for Deep River water main extension
June 3, 2021
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners received another visit from residents on Tuesday who wanted to continue to show their support for a potential project to bring water to properties in Deep River.
Westend resident Corbett McMasters said he had gone door to door in the Deep River area and learned of 35 residents who would benefit by such a project. He also said there were 46 taxable lots.
“My opinion is that we should have twice as many lots, but that’s not doable under the situation of not being able to have potable water,” McMasters said. “Once again, we pay the same taxes as everybody else in this county. That’s really not fair.”
He added that the fire department had to travel 17 miles to find a fire hydrant.
“Do you know how many people can’t get home owners insurance there?” McMasters added.
On May 26, the PUD received a phone call from Senator Maria Cantwell’s office alerting them to grant funding, which General Manager Dave Tramblie said could fund a 2.25 mile extension from an existing main on Salmon Creek Road to its junction with SR 4 and back along the highway over Salme Hill down to the Oneida Road intersection.
The PUD moved quickly to prepare a grant application, which was due Tuesday.
McMasters later asked if there was a time frame to address Oneida Road.
“This application that is in does not include Oneida Road, but we will start working, hopefully, on getting things where we can apply for the Oneida Road project next time,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “If we don’t get money this time, then maybe next time we can be prepared to apply for the whole thing.”
Commissioner Gene Healy said that it had long been his goal for everyone to have public water and public sewer, but pointed out that it takes will and money.
“We’ve got to head that direction as a society, or things won’t work out,” Healy said.
Pam Anderson of the Deep River Camp commented that they had been required to put in a septic tank that had cost thousands of dollars, and had the capacity to serve a small town. They had been required to install it, but they were never able to use it because they didn’t have water.
Reid mentioned President Biden’s plan that has $350 billion earmarked for broadband as well as another $10 million that had been set aside for broadband.
“Hopefully we can get some of that and get broadband to the eastern side of the county,” he said.
“The money gets gobbled up by the big actors in a hurry,” Healy responded. “Our county has some big pieces blocked out of it, one of them by Elon Musk and [SpaceX]. Federal money is not available if those blocks are granted. They have not been officially granted, so it’s complicated, but it’s going to be challenge to get that money in hand. But we are up to it if it’s doable.”
During public comment, Town Councilman David Olson said, “The problem we run up against again and again is that these sources of federal funding are not available, because of the essentially the prospecting claims filed by Charter and SpaceX that have basically walled off sections of the county that are in sore need of adequate broadband. They’ve been walled off by speculation bidders such as SpaceX and Charter, in areas they have no history of serving or arguably no real motivation to serve.
"They have six years to build, Frankly, I have my doubts in the case of Charter, whether they will ever get there. I have my doubts whether the FCC will enforce their bids to get there. You or your successors, in six years, may find the same dysfunction in broadband that we have today.”
In other news, PUD customers have had the option to sign up for Autopay using a debit or credit card in the past, but Auditor Erin Wilson said that new software has made it possible for customers to use their checking and savings accounts as well.
The Wahkiakum PUD will interview three candidates next week for the general manager position.