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City gets closer to providing water for Y Bar S

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

Residents of the Y Bar S neighborhood north of Enumclaw, who have long desired to be on the receiving end of city water, will apparently be getting their wish.

For months, steps have been taken toward making city services a reality and two developments last week kept progress on track. During their April 14 meeting, members of the Enumclaw City Council voted to accept a state Department of Health grant in the amount of $687,000; then, the council moved forward an ordinance that would form a Local Improvement District for the rural neighborhood, creating a funding mechanism that will generate $950,000 for upgrades to the existing system.

The LID was the subject of a public hearing May 14. While there may have been concerns expressed, the city has sufficient support to proceed. A final vote on formation of the new taxing district is expected during Tuesday night's City Council session.

“It has been clear for some time that the majority wants this,” Enumclaw Public Works Director Chris Searcy said.

Presently, residents of Y Bar S, Highview Estates and a few neighboring parcels receive water from a private purveyor, a system owned and operated by Bliss Industries. Twice in recent months, residents have been warned to boil their water for fear of E.coli, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, according to residents of the development. Neighbors petitioned the city in 1990 and again in 2001, asking that Enumclaw take control of their water. The situation has evolved to the point where the state's Department of Health has also jumped on board, encouraging the city to expand its services to the rural neighborhood just north of 400th Street Southeast and a bit west of state Route 169.

The Department of Health money officially accepted during the April 14 meeting will not have to be repaid.

If the council votes to approve the Local Improvement District Tuesday, as expected, a 30-day appeal process begins. Anyone impacted by formation of the district has a right to appeal to the council. City officials are confident, though, that there's enough support for the project to outweigh any opposition.

One the appeal period has passed, the city can begin the process of purchasing the existing water system then planning for the desired upgrades.

A tentative schedule shows construction could be completed by October, but Searcy believes things could be speeded up. “They possibly could begin receiving city water earlier than October,” he said. “The goal would be to get them connected earlier.”

Once everything is in place, the new city customers will be paying a basic water rate of $54.24 per month, plus a $40 surcharge, plus the LID cost. The LID works out to $8,482 per residence, which can be paid up front or financed through the city ($494 per year for 20 years). The surcharge was put in place to collect a pot of money in case the system breaks down and needs expensive repairs.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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