Keep the focus on water

This is an important day for the Thurston Public Utility District. The PUD is accepting applications for the open seat on its three-person board of commissioners until 4.30 p.m. today.

Alan Corwin created the opening – for District 2, serving the Lacey, Rainier and Yelm areas – by resigning his seat barely two years into a four-year term. He gave no warning or reasons for quitting, though some might speculate on a connection to the failed attempt to get the PUD into the power distribution business.

Whoever replaces Corwin will play an important role as a potential swing vote on the public power issue, should the PUD choose to pursue it again. Veteran commissioner Chris Stearns is a strong proponent of public power, while newly elected commissioner Linda Oosterman opposed it during last fall’s campaign.

Given that Stearns and Oosterman will want to appoint someone who share their perspective, it may be a difficult negotiation to select Corwin’s successor. It will be a good thing if they find and select someone genuinely neutral on the public power issue, and more interested in the delivery of clean, sustainable, potable water.

The PUD provides water services to more than 3,000 households in five South Sound counties, so there is plenty of work to do now that voters have settled the public power issue.

We suggest that the successful appointee demonstrate interest in assessing why the PUD imposes a countywide property tax, even though the vast majority of residents get their drinking water from cities or private wells.

We hope the PUD will interest people with progressive ideas about the South Sound’s broader water issues and focus on service to the PUD’s current customers.