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Duvall faces watery decision
DUVALL _At its next council meeting, the City of Duvall as
well as other area councils will either vote to join the Cascade Water
Alliance (CWA) or face an unknown situation in the future.
The city currently receives its water supply from Seattle Public
Utilities (SPU), which recently announced that it would end purveyor _ or,
contract-provided _ service in 2011. SPU announced it wants to work with
only one agency under a water service contract instead of the current 27
groups, said Michael Gagliardo, the CWA's general manager.
That's where CWA would step in.
The group is attempting to corral at least 75 percent of Seattle's
purveyors to become a part of the water alliance, as per SPU's request.
However, Gagliardo said if they aren't able to gather that many supporters, the
board will still hopefully be able to negotiate with SPU. Water services
through CWA are scheduled to be on line by 2001.
One of the biggest benefits for the members besides being able to
supply their cities with water is that they will have an equal voice in
setting policy, Gagliardo said.
"They will be able to plan collectively and develop new sources
and deal with endangered species requirements on a collective basis," he
said. "And they'd be able to control their own destiny, as opposed to
Seattle Public Utilities deciding what to do.
"And, we hope to be able to save some money."
So far, nearby cities such as Woodinville and Issaquah have
signed up, with Redmond and Sammamish still deciding. The Duvall council
tentatively plans to discuss the proposition at its next council meeting,
but members doubt there are other viable options.
"If we don't go with this come 2011, where are we?" asked
Councilwoman Jeane Baldwin, concerning the uncertainty of contracts with
Seattle beyond the deadline.
In the event that things don't work out with CWA, Councilwoman
Pat Fullmer said the city has the option of withdrawing from the group in the
first year with minimal economic impacts. The only thing they would lose is
the $4,000 they paid in dues. But if Duvall pulls out of the deal after that, it
would need to compensate the association for any money invested on their behalf.
If the city decides to join the CWA, it would need to pay $1.3 million
over a five-year period as part of an "old water buy-out" agreement. The
reason behind the dollar amount is CWA wants to offer comparable and
fair rates to all its members.
"The old water buy-out is one mechanism to insure that an
agency who becomes a member doesn't pay more, but these still need to be
worked out," Gagliardo said. "Cascade
will buy water from Seattle and redistribute. So CWA will have a single
rate. Seattle had two rates."
"So, no Cascade member will overpay or underpay between now
and 2011," he added.
In other words, cities that would be paying less under CWA's
contract would be required to pay a fee. Those who would pay more under
CWA would receive money from CWA.
"CWA will have lower rates than the City of Seattle and over a
period of time, the amount of buy-in and the savings should equalize,
theoretically," Fullmer said.
As for water rates, the city won't know what the CWA rates will be
until next July when the group completes a study, Gagliardo said. Until then,
the Duvall City Council is scheduled to adjust its water and sewer rates at
the Nov. 23 council meeting.