The protester’s sign outside said to fix Longview’s water, and the dozens who passed it Tuesday night got a close look at the work of those who are trying to do just that.
Community members turned out to an open house on Longview’s water committee to get a look at the process, ask questions and fill out a survey based on what has happened so far.
The committee is set to deliver a recommendation later this summer on improving Longview’s water, plagued with complaints since the new Mint Farm wells went online 18 months ago.
In June, the 14 community members settled on a Cowlitz River option, whether via riverbed Ranney wells or back to a surface source.
That was welcome news to many.
“There should be no doubt that this water is worse and costs more,” Jeff Wilson said Tuesday as he held a foot pump used by his sanitation business that has been rendered useless due to silica. “I am willing to spend more to get more.”
Wilson, who worked for years restoring the Shay locomotive now on the library lawn, said he no longer uses city water to wash it for fear of staining it.
Charles Dean, who last year sounded an alarm that home values could plummet and the city may be at risk of a class-action lawsuit due to the water issues, said at the open house he’s happy with the committee’s decision so far.
“Going back to the Cowlitz, I think, is very important,” he said. “But it might take three-to-five years too long.”
Aside from any small changes, Mayor Don Jensen said the Council might be “pretty well locked in to what the committee decides.”
“I think this whole process is amazing,” Jensen added. “How often do you see a city council say, ‘We wan’t help?’ “
Councilman Ken Botero, who sits on the water committee as a nonvoting member, said depending on the cost of the project, it might be wise to put it to a binding public vote.
Returning to the Cowlitz could cost anywhere from $10 to $47 per month in addition to current water bills.
The survey offered at the open house is open until July 6 and is online at LongviewWater.org or in print at City Hall, 1525 Broadway.
The water committee will next meet July 16 at City Hall.
A meeting has been scheduled with the committee, City Council and Beacon Hill water board for Aug. 20, when a recommendation from the committee may be presented.