PUD talks water projects


The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners began their meeting with a moment of silence for Wahkiakum County Eagle Publisher and Editor Rick Nelson.

Commissioner Dennis Reid shared his thoughts on the PUD’s project to find a secondary water source on Puget Island, saying that he would prefer to use the water as a primary source for island residents instead of a back up system for the Town of Cathlamet.

“I absolutely do not think that we should spend $3 million to make a back up system for the Town of Cathlamet,” he said. “If we spend that money and build that system, I think we should use it. If the Town of Cathlamet wants a back up system, they can spend $3 million.”

The PUD currently has a contract with the town, which supplies water to the island.

Commissioner Gene Healy responded, saying that the PUD and the town have a responsibility to be looking for an alternate water supply.

“There’s a chance that a system on Puget Island would solve everybody’s problems,” Healy said.

“We would be their back up and they would be our back up,” Reid agreed.

General Manager Dan Kay clarified that the PUD would pay about $250,000 of that aforementioned $3 million for the project, as most of the funding would come through a grant.

Kay said a tree contractor was working on SR 4, clearing vegetation.

He said that the PUD was considering applying for funding to hook up customers to water systems, citing several customers on the east side of Skamokawa who have been inquiring about joining the water system and customers on the end of North Hull Creek Road in Grays River who have similar notions.

“They are using private wells and springs, not stable sources,” Kay said.

Reid later pointed out that the PUD should not forget the people in Deep River who have similar challenges.

Kay said crews were hooking up new customers for electrical and water service and working on infrastructure as well. An overhead line with a history of outages on Longtain Road was is being converted to underground in a joint project with Charter Communications.

The recent fire on Puget Island highlighted the importance of the maintenance of the system, Kay said, and as a standard, it is checked after such events.

“When we have a high flow event, we will stir up some sediment that sits in the bottom of pipes. It’s safe, but it does put a little sediment in your water,” Kay said.

The commissioners approved the purchase and sale agreement of $50,000 for a portion of property on Puget Island for an alternate water system.

They then gave approval to waive the appraisal and survey contingencies until after the transaction. The seller was eager to close on the property and market the remainder of their farm, Counsel Tim Hanigan said.

There will still be a survey, but not before the transaction closes.

Regarding the appraisal, Hanigan said he had two current listings on Puget Island that were asking for more than what the PUD is paying, and a couple of sales in the last two years that were sold for more.

“I want to make a comment regarding the purchase of this land,” Healy said. “This is one step of many in a project that may never, ever find fruition. Whether that property ever has a water treatment plant on it is not yet determined. We simply purchased a piece of property.”

The PUD staff was also given approval by the board to apply for Public Works Board Infrastructure funding for the Puget Island Water System, the Skamokawa Water System, and the Western Wahkiakum Water System projects.


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