Council to Review Water Supply Options, Ports Fees

Tuesday, December 11 2012

When fish processors are busiest in Unalaska, the city’s water supply takes a hit. Previous studies have shown that the city would need an additional 2 to 4 million gallons of water a day to meet demand during those peak periods. To get that water, the city would have to drill new water wells.

The Seattle-based environmental consulting firm Shannon & Wilson has researched prospective well sites around town, including Pyramid Valley, where most of our drinking water is produced. Tonight, they’ll present their findings to city council.

The firm says they couldn’t find an aquifer that will fully meet the city’s needs. But they did find some new options in Unalaska Valley. They recommend drilling a test well at the end of Whittern Lane, which could yield about  1 million gallons a day as a short-term resource. And if the city retooled the three existing wells in Unalaska Valley, they might be able to extract more water.

Council will also hold a public hearing and take a final vote on a $370,000 budget amendment. It includes a $202,000 transfer from the general fund to the Museum of the Aleutians. That grant -- and other budget items, including grants for public safety and the department of public works -- have been in the works since October. That’s when museum director and councilor Zoya Johnson first asked council to approve a $202,000 grant to put toward an extensive renovation.

If this budget package passes, the city will reimburse the general fund for the museum grant over time, using bed tax revenues. In a memo to council, city manager Chris Hladick estimates that the annual minimum payment would be about $25,000 -- meaning it would take 8 years to repay the general fund.

Ports director Peggy McLaughlin will present a request to update the fee schedule for moorage and other ports services. Typically, council has revised the rates at least once a year. The last update went through in 2010 -- and in the meantime, the ports department has diverged from the city’s rates.

In a memo to council, McLaughlin says the ports department has been charging about 13 percent more than the last set of rates that council approved. The ports department is asking city council to formally adopt the higher rates that are already being charged.

Council will vote to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Christina Ball to the museum’s board of directors as a public-at-large representative. Mayor Shirley Marquardt will also swear in new police officer Kayla Bocim.

The meeting starts at 7 pm in council’s chambers in City Hall.

M. Webster on Wednesday, December 12 2012:

Now we need more water? Will wonders never cease? The way I understand it, the water is only needed for several days during the coldest months when water from our main water source is frozen. City Management needs to spend the least amount of money for the new well. We don’t need our rates going up further.

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