Ferndale to take over small water utility

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 21, 2014 

FERNDALE - The city will take over the customers, the well and the water belonging to the Central City Water Association, according to agreements approved Monday, May 19, by the City Council.

The city will spend an estimated $200,000 to connect city water to the association's lines, which serve about 120 homes off Church Road, north of Main Street. The Central City water main along Church Road will be abandoned or removed, according to the agreements.

The city is tearing up Church Road and rebuilding it this summer. The work would require Central City to replace its water main, an option the small utility couldn't afford.

The cost of operating a small water system that must follow increasingly stricter regulations is becoming prohibitive, said Gary Hooker, water association president, in a prepared statement.

"The city upgrade to Church Road forced the association to make a decision to either upgrade its water mains under Church Road and commit to being in the water business long term, or to consolidate with the city," Hooker wrote. "There was no pressure from the city to consolidate."

The city receives the well and the land it sits on at 5900 Church Road that was appraised at $125,000, city Administrator Greg Young said. The association will pay the city $75,000 to complete the compensation for the city's construction costs.

The water association will upgrade its remaining lines before the city provides water to the association's customers. In the interim, the city will sell water to the association at wholesale.

The deal transfers the association's water rights to Ferndale: 60 gallons per minute and 28 million gallons a year. The city has two water rights, dating to the 1950s, totaling 1,870 gallons per minute and 670 million gallons a year.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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