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Poulsbo could partner with KPUD to meet water demands

POULSBO — Changes could be on tap when it comes to water service for some Poulsbo residents.

In an effort to meet a growing demand, the Poulsbo Public Works Department is now conceptualizing a possible partnership between the city and the Kitsap Public Utilities District (KPUD).

The partnership would allow KPUD to serve the water needs of some of the city’s residents.

Public Works Director Jeff Bauman said at a Thursday evening committee meeting planning is still in discussion stages, but if it turns out to be a viable option, coordinating with KPUD could become an important aspect in making future expansion of Poulsbo possible.

The conversation began after the city identified two major infrastructure setbacks during its comprehensive planning update.

The sewer system is in need of funding, as it’s predicted in 2009 there will not be enough money to cover costs. A financial plan is currently being developed to identify a solution.

But the water system needs a little help of its own, as staff believe Poulsbo’s water supply will become insufficient for needs in 2012.

Bauman said this possible opportunity with KPUD isn’t a complete remedy, but a step in the right direction.

For now, the focus is on one 22-lot area in the northwest corner of Poulsbo’s city limits near Urdahl Road, a portion of Poulsbo already inside KPUD’s service area.

Bauman said were KPUD to take over water service there, it would lessen the pressure on Poulsbo’s demand. Because KPUD already has nearby storage and facilities, from an operational standpoint it would be easy for them to do, and would simply make sense.

But making sense of the situation for residents is what Bauman said is his main goal.

“A priority for us is the customer, to make it easy for the customer and to not have two classes of customers in the city,” he said. “If something like this goes forward, we are trying to do it in a way that the connection fees would be the same, ... the monthly billing would be the same.”

Bauman said billing could still be done through the city, so that all residents receive the same invoices for services, and while the city would keep some funds in exchange for meter-checking, most of the fees would go on to KPUD, since the infrastructure would belong to them, the water service would be provided by them and they would be responders to any maintenance needed.

The city would still provide all other utilities to that area. Currently there is not infrastructure there.

Bauman said it could be “precedent-setting,” and could lead the way to similar water service set-ups should city limits ever expand north or west.

“It’s a different step than what we’ve traditionally done,” he said.

Council Member Dale Rudolph said the concept looks to be “a very positive step,” and shows a beneficial trend of two jurisdictions working together.

A financial and operational feel of how the partnership would play out is still needed, Bauman said, but he will take the topic to the city’s finance committee meeting next week. If they agree it is worth looking into, KPUD board members and city council members could meet to further the discussion and create elements of a workable deal.

“If it comes out right, it’ll be a win-win,” Bauman said.

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