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County mulls water, sewer systems for Outlook

The city of Sunnyside is in the mix for possible water and sewer services to the community of Outlook.

Yakima County's Utility Manager, Joe Stump, said the county has been looking at running services to Outlook since a public health emergency declaration there several years ago.

"People have had problems with their septic systems and low water pressure in the summer," noted Stump. "There are also leaks in the old, galvanized water lines."

The county is looking at two options to remedy the situation.

"One option is to upgrade the existing system in Outlook," Stump explained. "Another option is contracting with Sunnyside for water and sewer."

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell said discussions with the county are at a very preliminary stage. If Yakima County did decide upon Sunnyside as a preferred option, the city council would have to ultimately okay its participation.

Since Outlook is such a small community, Stockwell said there would be no problem in providing the county with sewer and water on a long term basis.

As with any utilities the city sells outside of its city limits, Yakima County - and, by extension, Outlook - would be required to pay one-and-a-half times the rate Sunnyside residents pay.

Sunnyside would make little money on the sale and would not expend funds on running the system to Outlook, said Stockwell. The only possible exception would be to run some lines through areas the city is already looking to annex.

"It's basically a good neighbor thing," he said of the city's possible role in resolving Outlook's water and sewer problems.

The county's decision whether or not to contract with Sunnyside will be based on a $24,000 state-funded exploratory study to see which option would be the most cost effective and to determine if Outlook residents would be able to afford the new system.

A decision is expected by the end of next year.

There is already indication that Outlook residents are interested in water and sewer improvements, according to a survey by Yakima County.

Stump said public meetings will be held with Outlook residents next year to gather comment on their water/sewer needs and to discuss monthly utility costs that Outlook residents would incur through a new system.

Yakima County is already looking at funding sources for the projects, Stump continued, such as rural development and Department of Health grants.

If new water and sewer systems are built for Outlook, it would be 2007 at the earliest before they would be completed, according to Stump.

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