Council meets with lawmakers


John Freitag

State Representative Susan Fagan speaks at a council meeting in Pullman City Hall Tuesday, Nov. 19.

State law makers convened with the Pullman City Council Wednesday to discuss issues including updates in relation to one local hospital and funding efforts for a water conservation project.

Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Susan Fagan addressed concerns regarding the status of enhancements to Pullman Regional Hospital’s community provisions in relation to critical access.

“The face of health care is changing,” said Public Works Director Kevin Gardes.

Gardes referred to recent revelations of the Affordable Health Care Act, emphasizing the vague future of how Pullman citizens could be affected if they don’t attain a stable plan to utilize the services at Pullman Regional Hospital.

“We don’t even know where it’s going,” Gardes said.

Rep. Fagan affirmed Gardes’ belief, but said she is optimistic in the eventual outcome.

“I think we’re really preparing down the road,” she said. “There are a lot of unknowns.”

Also undetermined is when funding to construct a new water conservation system will come through, which has been on the Pullman’s agenda for the past 10 years.

In 2008, Pullman adopted a program compliant with a state measure requiring the use of a conservation water system.

“The city is enhancing its conservation efforts through prudent water management measures due to growing concerns regarding the declining aquifer and need to comply with state conservation requirements,” he said.

A water conservation system would benefit the entire Palouse, he said.

Gardes said such a system would cost about $19 million.

He said it has been a challenge to attain the remaining funding, which would go to final design.

“Our big hurdle is getting funding to start the project,” he said.

Schoesler suggested the city to continue negotiating with WSU officials about a capital budget to aid in monetary expenses of the aquifer conservation plan.

He said Pullman needs to look at various ‘legged stools’ of funding to get the job done and believes city officials are on the right track to implementing a water conservation system.

“It’s going to take a team approach and I think it’s a great team effort,” he said.