PUD signs City contract to end water impasse
July 8th, 2004 - 1:44pm
(Port Angeles) -- The water will stay on in East Port Angeles. Clallam County PUD Number 1 Commissioners signed an 18-month agreement today to continue to receive wholesale water from the City of Port Angeles. City officials had threatened to shut off the water on Monday if the contract wasn't signed. PUD General Manager Dennis Bickford says the board voted 2-1 at a special meeting this morning to accept the city's short-term contract, putting an end to a wholesale water contract impasse that could have effected 27-hundred water customers. Commissioners Ted Simpson and Will Purser voted to sign the City's agreement -- Commissioner Hugh Hafner voted no. Port Angeles City Manager Mike Quinn says he pleased that the issue is resolved at least temporarily. Bickford says the pre-annexation agreements tied to new PUD water hook ups in the eastern Urban Growth area is still an issue, even though commissioner voted to sign the agreement today. The PUD commissioners placed a moratorium on new or expanded water services in the Eastern Urban Growth area until the legal ramifications of the pre-annexation agreement with the city can be determined. Bickford says couldn't elaborate about the legal action PUD officials may have taken if they hadn't signed the contract. PUD staff was prepared to change all their water customers over to PUD's water supply without any city water. If the city water flow had been shut off, the PUD could have lost about 40 percent of its water supply for customers east of Port Angeles. That would have prompted cutbacks and conservation measures for all PUD water users to make up the difference.
PUD commissioners schedule special meeting in water dispute
Monday afternoon, PUD commissioners had soundly criticized a proposed contract to purchase wholesale water from the city.
Both agencies have been at odds over the past several weeks, specifically arguing over the city’s idea of making sure that future PUD customers don’t fight annexation into the city if that ever happens in the future. Commissioner Hugh Haffner in particular was blunt in his comments, saying he considered the contract “immoral” and “illegal” and said the PUD “wouldn’t be the city’s stooge” to force people to annex into the city.
Tuesday night, PUD Manager Dennis Bickford extended an invitation to Mayor Rich Headrick and the rest of the city council to attend a face-to-face meeting with PUD commissioners on Thursday afternoon. But Headrick declined the invitation, saying the utility simply had to decide “yes or no” on signing the proposed contract.
Wednesday morning, the PUD announced that commissioners would be holding a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the wholesale water contract that had been tabled on Monday. The board is also going to hold an “executive session” to discuss “possible litigation”. An “executive session” is where elected officials can hold a meeting closed to the press and the public under certain circumstances, including litigation. Presumably this executive session will involve the water contract, although no specific litigation has been filed by either party as yet. Commissioners had spent 45-minutes in intense discussion behind closed doors on Monday before tabling the contract.
The city plans to shutoff the water to the PUD on Monday.
PUD reluctantly signs water contract
Calling Port Angeles officials "irresponsible", Clallam County PUD commissioners have signed a controversial agreement to continue buying wholesale water from the City of Port Angeles.
The decision temporarily ends a fight over water that could have cutoff much of the water supply for PUD customers living in the greater Port Angeles area.
Emerging from a 90 minute "executive session" behind closed doors, PUD commissioners blasted Port Angeles leaders for continuing to insist that new water hookups for PUD customers be conditional on those residents agreeing to sign a "no protest" agreement to future annexation into the city. Commissioner Will Purser said city officials had been "irresponsible" by threatening to cut off the water if the agreement was signed, thereby "endangering the health" of PUD customers.
Commissioner Hugh Haffner continued to oppose the contract, but Purser and Commissioner Ted Simpson signed the agreement.
However, PUD officials did throw an unexpected curve pitch at the last minute, also enacting a moratorium on any new water hookups, thereby negating the city's insistence on the annexation clause. The board also pledged to work as quickly as possible to begin developing its own independent sources of water.
Port Angeles: PUD reluctantly agrees to water contract with
city; Monday shutoff averted
PORT ANGELES -- Citing public health concerns, Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to sign a wholesale water contract with the city of Port Angeles.
But the commissioners -- still seething over a city requirement making property owners support future annexation in return for new water hookups -- also declared a moratorium on new water connections until the PUD can obtain long-term water sources of its own.
``Since the city won't be responsible, we must be,'' said Commissioner Will Purser.
``I gotta hold my nose through this. It rubs me the wrong way.''
Commissioner Hugh Haffner voted against signing the contract, which runs through 2005.
The no-protest annexation agreements with the city won't become active until the city builds a sewer line into its unincorporated eastern urban growth area between DelGuzzi Drive and Morse Creek.
Wholesale city water accounts for about 40 percent of the Clallam PUD supply -- for as many as 7,000 people and businesses in a 24-square-mile area east of the city.
Vulnerable people at risk
Purser said shutting off that supply would put vulnerable people such as the elderly at risk from potentially contaminated water.
Life and property also would be at risk from fire due to low water flows, he said.
``The city knows that but -- to use Mayor Richard Headrick's words -- doesn't give a damn,'' Purser said.
``I came to the PUD to do public service. This is one of the worst situations I've faced since I've been in this chair,'' he said.
The city's deadline for signing the water supply contract was today
or the water supply would be shut off Monday.
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