The Skagit Public Utility District has received bids on a $35.5 million infrastructure project that will offer resiliency and redundancy to the county’s primary water system.
Engineering Manager Mike Handzlik said the utility plans to install 5.3 miles of pipe connecting Judy Reservoir — the PUD’s treatment facility and primary water source — to its system in Mount Vernon, replacing an aging piece of its system with a wider, newer transmission line.
Handzlik said the district’s Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on accepting this bid, from Scarsella Brothers Inc. of Kent, at its March 9 meeting.
The existing line running south from Judy Reservoir is more than 50 years old, and has seen three breaks in the past two years, which to Handzlik means it’s past time for replacement.
While the PUD can still serve its customers in the event of a break by using another transmission line, he said the age of the system overall means there are concerns about reliability.
“If you can’t rely on either one of these systems, your redundancy is lost,” Handzlik said.
The first phase of this project, which was completed in 2007, consisted of installing new pipe in Mount Vernon along the Kulshan Trail, he said. Since then, the PUD had been waiting until it was financially feasible to replace this latest section of the line.
Handzlik said about $11.5 million of the cost is covered by low-interest state loans, with the balance to be paid for with bonds. Utility bill revenue isn’t expected to be used for this project.
He said pipe needs to be custom made for a project such as this, so construction likely won’t start until mid-summer if the bid is accepted. If construction starts mid-summer, completion is expected in April 2023.
A portion of the new line will be installed under the east fork of Nookachamps Creek, using a new drilling technique, Handzlik said. Rather than burying the pipe, crews will drill horizontally underground and run the pipe through the hole.
He said this process saves money and is more environmentally friendly because crews don’t need to disturb wetlands.