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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.

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