PUD studying water projects on Puget Island, in the Westend
July 21, 2022
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners heard from Mike Johnson, an engineer from Gray and Osborne Engineering, about a hydrogeology study completed on Puget Island, in consideration for a back up water supply, and about potential costs for expanding the water system on the Westend.
“They think there is a reasonable possibility to find ground water in quantities that is useful to the PUD,” Johnson said.
While the engineer was optimistic about the quantity of ground water available on the north side of Puget Island or on Little Island, water quality had yet to be investigated. The next steps, he said, would be to find a property that would support the drilling of a well and to investigate the water quality in existing wells.
“It seems we should do an exhaustive test on any water before we spend any money drilling our own well,” Commissioner Gene Healy said. “That is not the place to save money. Test for everything known to mankind, I guess I would say, within reason.”
Talk turned to funding, researching potential properties, water rights, design, the potential need for water treatment, the contract for the current supply, and more.
“This is a multi-year project,” General Manager Dan Kay said.
Johnson also reported on G&O’s findings on a Western Wahkiakum Water System expansion study.
They looked at four potential extensions--extending a water main from Salmon Creek Road to Salme Road along SR 4, from Salme Road to Oneida Road along SR 4, down Oneida Road from SR 4 to the end, and/or bringing water from the Deep River area across the SR 4 bridge to Oneida Road.
“It’s pretty expensive,” Johnson said. “The capital costs for connection for a potential customer are very high and are not likely to be feasible without some outside subsidy.”
He said it could cost from $70,000 to $200,000 per connection, depending on which segments the PUD considered doing.
“Long term, even if you were able to obtain a capital subsidy to help do the original installation, you would still have to pay the long term operations, maintenance costs, and likely replacement costs when this infrastructure reaches the end of it’s useful life, which we assume to be about 75 years,” Johnson said.
“Without significant public funding, we have to figure out how much we have to charge per gallon of water and it might be more than any reasonable person would pay,” Healy said.
It’s absolutely not going to happen if it’s not with grant money, Commissioner Dennis Reid said.
Healy said that the PUD has discussed this project half a dozen times over the years and thought there might be some value in contacting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if they had any interest in getting public water to the boat launch area on Oneida Road.
“They may have some secret funds some place that they could chip in,” he said.
Kay said electric crews had completed a challenging project in Deep River, replacing poles and trimming trees and were now replacing poles on Puget Island.
Meanwhile, the water crew has replaced 700 feet of PVC pipe to HDPE on Covered Bridge Road.
He also said that Wahkiakum West had delivered a pole attachment design for East and Middle Valley on Monday, and while he hadn’t had a chance to look at it as of Tuesday morning, he said it looked like WW was completing work and ready to progress.
Kay said he would like to start discussions with other local entities about a feasibility study to address electric vehicle infrastructure in the community.
He said that eventually the PUD would be mandated to go in that direction with their own fleet.
"We need to be looking at ways of getting charging stations installed,” Healy said. “The primary reason is for charging someone’s car, the secondary reason is for commerce.”
Commissioners approved the bidding and ordering of a replacement digger/derrick line truck to be received and paid for at a future date, and approved a revised letter of support for the Town of Cathlamet’s application for a grant for their proposed waterfront park.