A motivated PUD goes after big grants
Water study and cybersecurity are among recent awards to Wahkiakum County
October 19, 2023
The Wahkiakum County PUD is awaiting grant funding, and continuing to seek more, in an effort to make more improvements to infrastructure around the county, as well as the security in their own office.
They were just awarded a grant from the Department of Health to study the feasibility of a consolidation of the Cathlamet and PUD water systems, or, in other words, what it would mean for the PUD to acquire the town’s water and wastewater systems and customers.
“Truly this is to address and mitigate the concerns of the 2016 [feasibility] study,” General Manager Dan Kay said.
“Our belief is that we will have a good solid action plan moving forward,” he said, adding that he expected that discussions would begin on the results of the study sometime in the middle of next year.
Signatures have to go off to the Department of Health for another grant from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and then the PUD will work with Mike Johnson, an engineer from Gray and Osborne, on plans to move forward with a project to replace 4,000 feet of mainline cross country from the treatment plant in western Wahkiakum to Fairview Road.
The PUD is also waiting to hear from the Washington Emergency Management Division about how to move forward with a $57,000 cybersecurity grant they received.
“We’ve got a lot of these in the queue right now, and are ready to move forward,” Kay said.
They are also doing the prep work needed for future grants, like getting an address for their new property on Little Island, which they hope one day will become the location for a secondary water source.
Outside the office, electric and water crews have been working on Mill Road, moving an overhead line underground and putting in a water line as well.
“It’s exciting to hear customers say, I’m hooked up to public water,” Kay said.
Commissioner Dennis Reid assured him there were several more potential customers waiting to say the same thing.
Kay remarked that there was always a lot of talk about how quickly the electric crew responded in an outage. He wanted the commissioners to know it was much the same for his water crew.
While doing meter reads recently, they found a crack on the customer’s side of the meter and running through his meter. The crew stepped up and got it fixed, including the replacement of their own equipment.
“I wanted to give some thanks and kudos to our water crew,” Kay said.
During the Auditor’s report, Erin Wilson said she and Kay had been meeting with a large group of people representing several governmental agencies like the Department of Health and the Department of Commerce, to find funding for their project to develop a secondary water source on Puget Island.
“It is a resourceful, supportive group when we talk about the source development on the island,” she said. “They are creative and very helpful.”
“They are trying to determine who the best to fund it at the least cost or best interest or loan forgiveness,” Kay said. It’s a very collaborative approach.”
“They take a lot of criticism, executive departments, and a lot of it is justified,” Commissioner Gene Healy said, “but it’s nice to hear that people on the ground are cooperative and working hard to do what is right for their citizens.”
“That has to do with your manager right now,” Counsel Tim Hanigan said. “We have some really good cheerleaders at the state level trying to get funding, and that’s because of the manager pushing it.”