The City of Anacortes is considering acquiring from the Skagit Public Utility District its water system serving Similk and Dewey Beach, Gibralter, Fidalgo Heights and Summit Park.
The public can comment on the proposed acquisition of the Fidalgo Island Water System during the Skagit PUD Board of Commissioners meeting 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8 via Zoom Cloud Meetings. Visit SkagitPUD.org to join the online meeting; comments can also be made via email to PUD@skagitpud.org.
Comments can be submitted to the Anacortes City Council at CityofAnacortes.org. The council meets at 6 p.m. the first four Mondays of each month.
The proposal, as it now stands, is for a no-cost transfer of ownership from Skagit PUD to the city, Skagit PUD spokesman Kevin Tate said. The acquisition must be approved by the Skagit PUD Board of Commissioners and the Anacortes City Council.
The benefit of the acquisition is it will be easier and less expensive for the city to provide the service because of the service area’s proximity to Anacortes, city and PUD officials say. The city is already the wholesale provider of water to the Skagit PUD, and by extension, the Fidalgo Island Water System.
A community meeting took place March 5 at the Dewey Beach Community Center. Residents of the water system’s service area — Dewey Beach, Gibralter, Fidalgo Heights, Summit Park and Highway 20/Deception Road — learned they could end up paying slightly less each month for water service. The district’s charges a base rate of $32.38 and a per-gallon rate of 2 cents per gallon; the city charges a base rate of $30.99 and a per-gallon rate of about 1.1 cents per gallon.
Acquisition of the water system doesn’t mean those communities would someday be annexed by Anacortes or that more development would result. Those communities are outside the city’s urban growth area, and City Councilman Ryan Walters said last fall that the city taking over operation of the water system doesn’t increase “the likelihood of further development in that area. Development is controlled by zoning.”
The council approved an agreement with Skagit PUD on Dec. 9 to work out the details of the city’s proposed acquisition of the 63-year-old water system.
The city has the right to 54 million gallons a day from the Skagit River, but typically draws 20 million gallons a day, Finance Director Steve Hoglund said previously. In addition to the Skagit PUD, the city supplies water wholesale to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Town of La Conner, and the City of Oak Harbor.
Acquisition of the Fidalgo Island Water System would increase the size of Anacortes’ water system by 9% and would generate about $424,000 in annual revenue and cost $51,000 a year to operate, city Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer has said. The revenue balance would go toward capital improvements on the system, he said.
What must be finalized is which improvements will be completed by which agency, Skagit PUD general manager George Sidhu said in an earlier interview.