Candidate forum

Candidates for Kittitas County Water District No. 7 answer questions at the Kittitas County League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on Wednesday in Cle Elum.

Candidates Douglas Philbrick, Mike Budschat and Roger Swanson all answered questions for the open commissioner position on the Kittitas County Water District No. 7 board at the League of Women Voters Upper County Candidate forum on Wednesday at the Putnam Centennial Center in Cle Elum.

Water District No. 7 covers the community of Sunlight Waters. This race will be on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.

Swanson has been a resident and property owner at Sunlight Waters for 20 years and is a retired general contractor. He worked for 30 years and was a member of the Master Builders Association.

Budschat is a resident of Sunlight Waters, was an auto technician for 40 years and said his primary assets are his ability to communicate with people and problem solve.

Philbrick has lived in Sunlight Waters for five years and said his climbing career took him around the country, working as a television producer, music producer, hazmat tanker driver among other responsibilities.

Philbrick previously held a water commissioner position and said he has experience with position, as well as climbing water towers, reading meters and operating heavy equipment.

One of the issues facing Water District No. 7 is the need for a complete overhaul of its infrastructure. Candidates answered how they would balance customer water rates with upgrade needs in light of long differed improvements.

Budschat said sourcing whatever funds are available, whether they come from federal or state funds.

Philbrick said throughout the night the commissioners need to be cognizant of the disabled and elderly population in District 7, who don’t always have a lot of expendable income. He agreed the money for upgrades needs to come from grants or anywhere we can get it to keep from raising the rates.

“We need to make sure we’re taking care of everybody,” Philbrick said.

The candidates also discussed creating a periodic assistance program to help-low income households. All three candidates agreed they would support a donation-based system.

Fighting fire

With the creation of a Sunlight Waters volunteer fire department on the horizon, candidates stressed that improving the infrastructure to allow trucks to better pump water out of the system is a must.

“I think just servicing lines and getting meters and hydrants up to par is a big part of that direction,” Budschat said.

Philbrick said having a backup generator system hooked up to the main well would be a great addition in case the grid goes down.

“If all hell breaks loose, you can still flush your toilet and have a shower,” he said.

Philbrick also noted when the Taylor Bridge fire ran through Sunlight Waters, they found out places that burned down were having water shooting straight up into the air.

“We need emergency implementation to get in there as quickly as possible,” Philbrick said. “We lost all the water in the tower and that didn’t help anybody.”

Demand for water

One question asked if the commissioners would be interested in buying properties to reduce the demand for water. Candidates agreed that wouldn’t be a good use of clients money.

Swanson recommended putting in a water moratorium on new hookups until the lines are up to date.

Philbrick said there are close to 295 lots, with only 225 hookups and doesn’t anticipate the Yakama Nation allowing any more hookups. He would rather use money to update current infrastructure than get involved in buying lots.

Budschat said discussions have been on going with the state Department of Health and Department of Ecology to get more water.

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