Hearing set for residents on failing Monroe water system

Residents in the Rimrock area south of Monroe will have a chance Tuesday to voice their concerns and questions about the failing water system in the neighborhood.

“People here don’t know what exactly is going on,” said Bruce Stoker, a homeowner in the neighborhood of 57 homes.

Stoker, 54, is one of several homeowners who remain hooked to the water system owned by Gamble Bay Water Inc. of Kitsap County. The company has filed for bankruptcy and is scheduled to abandon the system Saturday.

State and Snohomish County officials will meet with Rimrock residents Tuesday in Everett to discuss options.

What will happen after March 26 is unknown.

No one has stepped forward to take over the system, which imposes possible contamination hazards. The state Department of Health has advised residents to boil their water since September 2003.

The state plans to file a petition Wednesday to require the county to assume responsibility for the system, said Derek Pell an assistant regional manager of the Northwest office of drinking water for the health department.

But the county, which doesn’t own or operate water systems, hasn’t decided how to respond to the request, said Gordon Sivley, the county’s deputy prosecuting attorney.

“We haven’t seen any documents,” he said.

Meanwhile, many homeowners found alternative ways to get water to their homes, resident Sara Schurr said. Some dug private wells; others decided to share wells.

Schurr said 18 homeowners haven’t taken any steps and still use the community water system.

Stoker is one of them. He said he is trying to sell his home, but the failing water system makes it difficult.

“I’ve checked with different well companies, but I’m still waiting to see what will happen,” he said.

Because of the rocky topography, drawing a well in the Rimrock area costs $25,000 to $30,000, Stoker said.

“I don’t have money to do it,” he said, adding he will have to get a loan.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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