ILWACO - Mayor Ed Leonard's report during Monday's Ilwaco City Council meeting included comments about progress of construction on the First and Howerton project at the Port of Ilwaco and solutions to discolored water from the city's water system.

"We need more dry weather so we can get as much constructionon done on the Howerton project this fall," Leonard said. "We also need a great deal of rain so the iron content in our water supply will be reduced. It's hard to get both."

Leonard said now that personnel from Rognlin's Inc., the Howerton project contractor, are on site, a current copy of the engineer's report will be posted at city hall during construction.

Water leaks and service interruptions at the port have been a problem for the past three weeks, Leonard said. On Monday, a 1-inch line was broken, causing an interruption of water service to the port for about an hour. He said also last week, a water main in the Vandalia area ruptured. "The lines in Vandalia are beginning to show their age and we need to reserve funds for replacement in the next decade," he said. Leonard added that installation of water mains at the Discovery Heights development has required intermittent interruption of water service in the Sahalie area. "To all, I can only apologize for the inconvenience," he said.

The mayor also reported that, after meeting with Washington Department of Health officials, "We were informed that the 400,000-gallon Discovery Heights reservoir could be connected into our water system once it is tested and that, dependent on the results of our water plan, additional water connections may be permitted in piecemeal fashion. We could not have asked for more. I'm extremely pleased."

Leonard said he's been meeting with Pacific County Sheriff John Didion to discuss infrastructure requirements for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. "Didion is keeping a close eye on the need for EMS vehicles, among other issues," he said.

Also at Monday's meeting, Cathi Read, small communities initiative director for the Washington Office of Community Development, reported on the city's work on upgrading water and sewer systems. The good news for the city, Read said at the end of her report, is that water and sewer rates won't be going up.

Work on updating and renovating the city's antiquated water treatment plant are proceeding with the help of a $300,000 Community Development block grant, Read said, "to assist in complying with Washington Department of Health orders." She said the actions required include system operator training for one person, telemetry and instrumentation upgrades, a project report by a qualified engineer detailing necessary actions to achieve compliance with the DOH order, construction documents for recommendations in the project report and a revised emergency response plan to include procedures tor water treatment plant failures.

Because the block grant wasn't sufficient to complete the work at the plant, DOH identified work that could be deferred without violating the order, Read said.

Advertising for bids for the project should go out Jan. 1 and construction of improvements to the plant would begin Feb. 8. The work is expected to be completed by March 20.

Read said that should additional capacity at the plant be needed, the matter would be addressed after the updates and repairs are completed.

She said a major study is being done on rates and should be completed by December and could include a surcharge to customers living outside the city limits. The study is being done with the help of Skip Rand, a volunteer who is an expert on the subject, and will be discussed at the council's Jan. 13 meeting.

Also during the meeting, the city's long-discussed noise ordinance was tabled once again. The city's planner, Skip Urling, had e-mailed the council four additional recommendations for the ordinance before the meeting and all but one were accepted by the council, but it didn't end there.

After discussions among the council, members Victoria Stoppiello and David Jensen volunteered to go back to Square One and completely rewrite the ordinance and bring it before the council in a timely fashion.

"We didn't anticipate that what we really need to do is have a workshop on the issue," Stoppiello said Tuesday. "We didn't realize how complicated it is to balance the interests of industry and the concerns of nearby residents." The concerns mainly are about noises from the fish processing plants at the Port of Ilwaco, but the ordinance attempted to cover issues such as "jake brakes" on large trucks, noisy private vehicles, construction and private firing ranges, among others.

"There were issues of fairness that were unanticipated," Stoppiello said. "If commercial and industrial activity have outright exemptions, that means people in residences would be held to higher standards of conduct than businesses." She gave as an example a bar with speakers playing music on the street. "There are no regulations to cover that," she said. "But if a resident plays music too loud, they could get a ticket."

The council did pass an ordinance covering how to deal with people who pay city fees with checks written for insufficient funds. It was resolved that a $25 fee would be levied for each returned check.

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