Long effort to pipe water to Marrowstone Island nearly finished

PORT HADLOCK — The final chapter is near its close in Jefferson County Public Utility District’s six-year battle to extend water service to Marrowstone Island, a community plagued by dry and saltwater-tainted wells.

The PUD commissioners, who on Monday night discussed 10 final holdouts protesting water service, approved and confirmed the final assessments and assessment roll for the Marrowstone water system, known as Local Utility District No. 14.

PUD Manager Jim Parker reported that 616 parcels were fully assessed, 204 received partial assessments and 78 were exempted from helping PUD pay for the $5 million project that contractor Pape and Sons is expected to finish by the end of the month.

“You just can’t imagine what it’s like to have nice tasting water running out of your tap. It’s been a long six years, ” said Gloria Hays, wife of PUD Commissioner Kelly Hays.

For years, the Hays trucked in water for neighbors after wells on the east side of the island were fouled by saltwater intrusion.

Hays’ last meeting

It was PUD Commissioner Hays’ last meeting.

His appointed term is ending, and newly elected Commissioner Ken McMillen will take the seat after Jan. 1.

At least 100 wells of an estimated 500 in existence on Marrowstone Island are either dry or contaminated by saltwater intrusion, a growing problem.

Parker said about 200 Marrowstone residents are hooked up to the new PUD water system.

Protesters

The PUD commissioners denied seven of the 10 homeowners who protested service.

Three were determined to have lots that could not be built upon.

Assessments are $1,500 per lot, which can be paid over 17 years.

Most protesters wanted to remain on wells until they either ran dry or were no longer producing potable water.

That was a problem, said PUD Commissioner Dana Roberts, because by law the utility must provide water service to all in the district.

“It’s very hard to believe that it’s not at least a limited benefit to the properties over there,” Roberts said.

Those protesting PUD water service were Lauri Chambers, William Dwyer, Dennis Justis, Joanna and Roger Beachy, William Smothers and Janet Welch, Garth and Mary McHattie, Karen Robinson, Ray Harker and Mary Tennbrink, Pasquale and Sharon Geraldi and Sandy, Randy and James Hansen.

The PUD commissioners lowered Dwyer’s assessment from $8,100 to $1,500 and exempted the Geraldis and Hansens from service.

Marrowstone Island residents petitioned Jefferson County Public Utility District six years ago to build the system across the island.

The project has experienced years of delays, including Conserve Water First’s unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the project.

Litigation ended when a judge in 2005 dismissed the case in Jefferson County Superior Court.

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Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsula dailynews.com.

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