Water District 19 will be losing Commissioner Bob Powell at the end of this year, as his term will be up on Dec. 31. Those interested in filling his shoes need to file to run for his post by May 23.
Bob has helped guide the district through a number of changes, including welcoming the two additional commissioners who continue to serve the district. As general manager, I have the opportunity to work closely with the board and believe we all work well together. Both Commissioners Zuckerman and Weller will continue to serve through the end of their terms, so there are experienced commissioners on the board.
A great number of improvement projects were completed during Bob’s tenure, but there remains more work to be done throughout the Water District 19’s service area. I will miss Bob’s thoughtful deliberations while working through difficult decisions. Bob exercised patience with all in attendance at board meetings and treated people with respect, whether he agreed or disagreed with them. Both staff and the remaining board members will miss him, and we’re hoping to find someone who is equally interested in learning and working with those of us who will remain with the district.
There are three commissioner positions on the board, each serving a six-year term. In addition to one evening board meeting a month, occasionally there are times when special meetings are required for issues that can’t wait for the next scheduled meeting. Of late, the board has held several special meetings in preparing the new Water System Plan (The Plan), which is due every ten years. The current plan should be completed prior to Bob’s departure, but the approval process could take another year.
As many of you know, the district is contending with multiple brown-water episodes, occurring in water mains that have outlived their useful life. The largest component of the district’s plan is capital improvement projects to replace the water mains contributing to water coloration.
The plan, which will soon be submitted to the Washington State Department of Health, allocates $7.3 million for main replacements, of which $360,000 has already been spent for two short main projects. There are four water main projects totaling $4.5 million that are scheduled to begin later this year to replace one of these sections contributing to coloration.
Assuming funding occurs as planned, the remaining three large main projects will continue through 2028. After the four mains have been replaced, the district will then begin seven smaller projects to replace the shorter sections of pipe that connect to the new mains. These projects are expensive, especially for a small rural water district, so it will require a committed board, working in concert with district staff to complete the projects outlined in the Plan.
Currently, board meetings are being conducted on ZOOM, so if you would like to attend a board meeting, please check our website, water19.com for the online instructions, or call our office at 206-463-9007.
Jim McRae is the General Manager of Water District 19