PUD will build a "swamp" on Puget Island

General Manager Dan Kay is being proactive


November 9, 2023

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners will save some money in coming years with a decision they made on Tuesday to switch their Puget Island Water System plan to something General Manager Dan Kay calls a “swamp.” As he points out, he didn’t come up with the name, which is actually SWSMP, an acronym for Small Water Systems Management Program.

Plans are required for water systems like the ones run by Wahkiakum PUD. They identify what the utility needs to maintain or improve their system, while creating room for future growth.

Traditional plans are created by engineers, cost tens of thousands of dollars, and must be updated every 10 years.

Switching to a SWSMP allows the PUD to keep all the elements of their plan, but doesn’t require the expensive update every 10 years.

“There is no downside, it’s just a positive,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “The whole idea is to save the utility a lot of money.”

Kay explained that proactive projects like the one the PUD is currently working on to locate a second source of water on Puget Island has been in the plan for decades. This project is actually the number one item in the plan and is designed to create redundancy in their system if the other water source should fail, and maybe even one day be a primary source of water for the island.

“Reliability by virtue of redundancy,” Commissioner Bob Jungers said.

Kay continues to seek funding for PUD projects. On Tuesday, commissioners approved two more applications. One is going to the Washington State Department of Health’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for planning and engineering loan funding. The PUD is requesting $300,000 to pay for initial engineering and drilling of a test well. The second is off to the Washington State Department of Commerce Public Works Board for pre-construction loan funding in the amount of $300,000 to pay for initial engineering and drilling a test well.

If they receive both awards, they would likely choose the better offer, Kay said.

The board held a budget rate hearing.

“We are proposing no rate increase,” Kay said.

“I don’t know how many more years we will be able to go with no rate increase with all the pressures being put on us from the legislature, the things they are making us do that are going to cost us money, but at this point, no rate increase,” Reid echoed.


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