Thank you for the Feb. 9 article on the proposed Sunset Falls Dam. PUD assures us that “no decision has been made” and asks the public to “hold judgment until they see the final proposal,” but that is becoming increasingly difficult because PUD is so obviously downplaying the real costs.
The article would lead one to believe that PUD intends to spend just $1 million on the studies that will determine the fate of this project. But in fact, PUD will have many, many millions of dollars invested by the time the studies are complete.
PUD has already purchased several parcels of real estate and negotiated purchase options for additional property at the proposed dam site. PUD awarded a $900,000 contract earlier this month for additional design and engineering work on Sunset Falls and is currently spending an estimated $400,000 on a second round of geotechnical studies that, under the revised study plan, will be further expanded at additional expense to deal with previously undisclosed landslide issues. All of these expenses are in addition to the estimated $1,138,000 yet to be spent on the recently approved study plans.
On top of the above mentioned $2.44 million in studies, PUD has already spent a very considerable amount of money on the preliminary design of the dam and trap and haul upgrades, preliminary geotechnical investigations, the hiring of specialist outside attorneys and in paying for more than two years of PUD staff and senior management time devoted to the project; not to mention the cost of promoting the project to the public. Just how much has been spent? PUD is not saying but it is probably safe to assume the amount is measured in additional millions of dollars.
By the time the commissioners are asked to decide, the PUD could be into the project so deep that there is no turning back. This is what the public is worried about and this is the reason why a candid discussion at this time is entirely appropriate.