Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD board hears need for water system study

A report from Mike Johnson, an engineer from Gray and Osborne, Inc. occupied much of the conversation at the Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

In order to apply for a drinking water state revolving fund in November, the PUD will need an approved water system plan.

He said that a conversation with the Washington Department of Health illuminated some potential paths for the PUD. They could do a full plan update, which would require a look at all their production and consumption data over the past six years, as well as an evaluation of the system, which would include looking for necessary improvements and updating a financial plan.

They could move to a 10 year plan, which Johnson believed would be difficult to approve before the window opened for grant applications in November. The plan could be completed by that time, he said, but with a short staffed DOH it was unlikely to get approved in time.

The third option Johnson suggested was to do a limited plan update which would take a look at what the PUD has currently and give direction on what to update in the plan.

Johnson suggested that the PUD request to have the Puget Island Water System converted to a small water system management program, which he said never expires.

“They felt pretty strongly that request could be approved before November 2022, and essentially that would qualify you for drinking water state revolving funding this year.”

He said that if the PUD went to the small water system management program, they could return to full planning at any time. In the meantime, they would be eligible for grant funding this year, and decide later on to switch to a full plan update.

Johnson discussed some of the disadvantages of the small water system management system, which limits the system to less than 1,000 hook ups, without the possibility of expansion.

“[This] seems like a good option for this year to go ahead and freeze this as a small water system management program for now,” Johnson said.

Johnson then addressed the reliability and redundancy of the water supply on Puget Island.

He said the PUD could improve storage and install a booster pump on the Island or find a back up water source on the island.

A booster pump and reservoir is a clearer path, Johnson told them, because the size of the tank and booster pump and their cost would be clear.

“But it only gives you three to five days of storage,” he said.

“A back up water source has maybe a greater range of outcomes,” Johnson said. “It does provide you a back up water supply that you could use continuously for an indefinite period of time.”

“It also provides a potential for improved long term source capacity for the region,” Johnson said.

To determine how to move forward, Johnson recommended a hydrology study on Puget Island, and he described what might come next, depending on what they found.

“We need the results of a hydrology study to know what to do next,” General Manager Dan Kay said.

“It seems to me that our water plan needs to be area wide,” Commissioner Gene Healy said. “We need to think of our water supply as being one for everyone that we can reach.”

“There’s been a thought that this area needs another supply of water,” Healy added. “That needs to be in the long range plan and anything we do needs to support that longer view.”

The commissioners approved a hydrology study.

Kay told the commissioners that the PUD was moving forward with tree trimming. He said that pole testers were working west of Rosburg and were the subject of good feedback from customers. He also noted that the PUD crew was working on pole replacements and new customer service.

“We’re busy,” Kay said, “we keep moving forward. This is an exciting time for the district.”

Auditor Erin Wilson said that she and Kay had researched educational materials to help with staff training as far as harassment prevention, diversity, equity, and inclusion, something which had not been done at the PUD before.

“It just creates awareness for everybody, and the biggest driver is from a liability standpoint,” Wilson said.


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