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Vader now offering water hookups after moratorium status clarified

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The City of Vader is again offering water system hookups after Lewis County confirmed there is no moratorium against the city during the May 7 Vader City Council meeting.

Vader officials had stated they were under the impression a moratorium was in place from the Department of Health (DOH) preventing new water hookups after the system began experiencing massive water leaks in 2009. Lewis County Public Works Director Tim Elsea clarified Vader may not be able to acquire new hookups but can still offer from an existing pool of approved hookups to its water customers.

“We have around 350—maybe fewer—connections in the water system,” said Elsea, who has overseen Vader’s system since it was ordered by a judge into the stewardship of Lewis County in 2010. “We are approved for up to 369 connections, so we can approve connections up to 369 for the water system.”

“So, we’re not under a moratorium,” stated Council Member Kevin Flynn during Elsea’s presentation.

“That’s correct,” replied Elsea.

The question of Vader’s moratorium status had been raised April 2 after Mayor Ken Smith reported he had spoken with Elsea to ask how the city could lift the moratorium now that an extensive pipe replacement by Lewis County has been completed. Elsea had replied there was no moratorium and both entities attempted to confirm this by researching which procedures were followed leading up to Vader’s system being given to Lewis County.

Elsea said some miscommunication may have come from the language used by DOH in their definition of a Blue Permit status, which had been given to Vader’s system in 2009. Elsea said a Blue Permit states a system is able to adequately accommodate existing uses but is “not adequate for adding new connections.” He said the roughly 20 hookups currently unutilized in Vader are defined as existing uses and the city is only barred from granting hookups above 369.

Flynn declared Vader should expect to see a “flood” of building permit applications based on such news and Smith has said there are a number of residential and commercial developers who have been awaiting available hookups as Vader sorts out its water issues.

One issue that has been stalled due to a perceived moratorium has been the electrification of McMurphy Park, the utilities for which would need to pass through an adjoining residential property to reach the park. The property owner had agreed to grant an easement to Vader if the city would pay for a water hookup once water lines were extended to the property, but the property is still without water service as Vader assumed no hookups were available. But the revelation of available hookups could allow Vader to satisfy its end of the agreement and the Park Board’s goal of installing utilities at the park by the end of 2013 may be within reach.

In regard to hookup availability, Smith confirmed the unused hookups are currently open to those who wish to apply and stated, while the Department of Ecology has cautioned against additional sewer hookups as the sewer plant is close to its limit, those who need sewer to go with their water can still apply, as applications are able to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“Vader is out of the red and into the blue,” added Smith.

The next council meeting is scheduled for May 21 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. Those with question or in need of accommodations may call (360) 295-3222 beforehand.

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