Tuesday, December 18, 2012
By BEN MITCHELL
Bingen's leaking water system has been in desperate need of repairs for some time now and if the city gets its way, state funds for a waterline replacement project could become available by this summer.
That's because this fall, Bingen's project was one of 277 in the state that made it on the Public Works Board's Recommended 2014 Construction Loan List, which offers state loans for water, sewer, road, and other public works projects for Washington municipalities. Bingen requested $501,877 for a loan that would be used to replace a 570-foot section of three-inch steel water pipe along Steuben Street and an 1,800-foot section of pipe along Oak Street.
These sections of pipe are corroded and are a large source of Bingen's distribution system leakage (DSL) issues. In February, a leaking pipe caused a small sinkhole to form at the intersection of Steuben and Walnut streets. While the repair helped some, DSL numbers showed that Bingen still leaked close to a third of its water in the month of March. According to the city's 2011 Water Use Efficiency report -- which is submitted annually to the State Department of Health -- Bingen has a goal of reducing its DSL rate to 10 percent.
Bingen's project is one of three projects in Klickitat County that were recommended for receiving loans from the state fund. A $750,000 loan for a $2,027,200 project in Goldendale was recommended, as was a loan for the Tohomish-Snohomish project in White Salmon, which would provide a $770,000 loan for $1,170,000 worth of public works infrastructure improvements. Most projects on the loan list have a 20-year repayment schedule and an interest rate of 1 percent.
While the projects have been recommended for funding, the final list still needs to be approved by the State Legislature and Governor-elect Jay Inslee. The legislature's next regular session will begin Jan. 14 and last until April 28.
Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending said she didn't know when the Legislature or the Governor would approve the loan list. She expressed concern that some of the $685 million earmarked for the Public Works Board loans could be cut due to the state's "budget crisis," which could result in a reduction to Bingen's loan amount. Bingen already lost out on a loan earlier this year when it failed to make the draft list for a Washington Department of Health loan due to the city's small population.
If approved, Brending said the loan funds would be available once the state's 2014 fiscal year starts on July 1, 2013.