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Leaking water tank prompts vote on Clinton district tax increase

"Mike Helland tries the legendary Dutch boy technique of plugging a hole, but even his finger can't keep this Clinton Water District tank from leaking. Nor can several wooden plugs. As a result, area residents will be asked to increase their taxes in November to pay for a new reservoir.Jim Larsen / staff photoWater district wants pros, consThe Clinton Water District board is seeking people both for and against the $275,000 bond proposal that will be on November's ballot. Both sides will be asked to write a statement for the Island County voters pamphlet.Anyone interested may call the water district at 341-5487 or attend the next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the district office, 6437 S. Harding Avenue.They knew it was going bad, but they didn't know it would go this bad this soon.Problems with a leaky reservoir tank that supplies water to customers of the Clinton Water District have prompted a decision to ask voters for a tax increase in November.Property owners living within the district boundaries will be asked to approve the sale of $275,000 in bonds to be paid off over 10 years. The initial property tax is estimated at 28 cents per thousand.The water district commissioners made the decision to go to the voters earlier this month, said Mike Helland, maintenance supervisor. Targeted for replacement is reservoir number 2, situated on the edge of the hill in the Hilltop Terrace development.The vertical redwood tank is held together by steel bands, and has served the district well since its construction in 1969. But now it is sprouting leaks from a number of places and saturating the ground beneath the tank.It's been leaking for seven years but not at nearly this volume, Helland said Tuesday. We can't repair it for fear of destroying it.Numerous wooded plugs stud the tank, but water just spouts out elsewhere. It's been plugged internally and externally, Helland added. We're running out of fingers. A catastrophic failure is now considered a possibility.The water district commissioners had planned to ask voters next year to replace the reservoir, but they moved the timetable up to this year because of the increased leakage. Helland said reservoir 2 is the control center for the water system, as all the wells are turned on and off by a control inside the reservoir. A pump station is also located there.If 60 percent of the water district's voters approve the bond sale on Nov. 7, then plans are to build a new welded steel reservoir this winter when water demand is low. The old tank holds 106,000 gallons of water, while the new tank would hold about 156,000 gallons.The water district has a capital improvement fund of some $108,000, but the board, headed by Roy Simmons, doesn't want to spend any of that money on the new reservoir. Helland said a reserve is necessary, and the district will need to meet other costs in coming months. "

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