Water District 19 seeks new commissioner

Water District 19, which services the center and east side of Vashon from SW 160th Street to Portage, a small area of Maury Island and down to the SW block of 228th Street, is seeking a new commissioner.

Former commissioner Jenny Bell, whose term was to end in 2019, became ineligible to serve after she recently moved out of the district.

According to Melody Snyder of Water District 19, no applications for the open commissioner position have been received as of yet. The district has 90 days from the time of Bell’s resignation to fill the opening she vacated.

Bob Powell, president of the board, said that qualified candidates must possess an appreciation of the complexity and responsibility posed by the task of being a commissioner in order to best serve customers and the district.

“The ideal candidate should be an all-around advocate for the well-being of our community, and be able to understand and weigh the different perspectives and priorities that need to be taken into account for decisions and planning,” he said.

Most essential of those priorities include water quality, the district’s commitment to indefinite sustainability and the greater needs of the natural ecosystem surrounding the district.

Powell added that one of his personal motivations for serving as board president is to one day provide water service for affordable housing options on Vashon that he would like to see developed. Powell believes that such a cause would help reduce pressure on residents unable to afford a place to live on the island, which has become increasingly out of reach for many.

“The ideal qualifications and mindset of a commissioner is someone who is enthusiastic to learn about the issues surrounding conservation and affordable housing, and the health of our local, natural environment, and help us make some tough decisions in the best interest of our community,” he said.

Powell added that with age and use, Water District 19 now faces serious infrastructure maintenance issues and that “tens of millions of dollars in pipelines have deteriorated” to the point where they will have to be replaced.

“Until recently, we had been spending to replace water mains at a rate of approximately $100,000 a year, really not even keeping up with the rate of deterioration,” Powell said, noting that the board is currently working through a process that will be reviewed at a public meeting scheduled for a later date. Water District 19 will likely need to borrow money through the Washington State Public Works Trust Fund in order to complete several million dollars worth of water main replacement all at once; the project would require raising service rates for customers. Powell said the new commissioner would need to help the district decide what is a reasonable rate for service, as well as to consider what the long-term impact on their customer base will be.

Interested candidates who live within the boundaries of the district should send a resume to water19@water19.com. In the body of the message, candidates should answer why they want to serve and what skills they possess. Put “Commissioner application” in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until Thursday, Sept. 13.

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