Interview with MCSD candidate David Couch

David Couch 003From 10/7/09 issue

By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer

Q. How many MCSD board meetings have you attended since you became a candidate?
David Couch: One. I meant to go to the August meeting but they changed the date.
Q. What makes you qualified to be a candidate?
Couch: Work experience. I’ve worked for the City of Arcata as a wastewater operator for 20 years. I also have an education in environmental sciences, specializing in wastewater utilization (Humboldt State). I’ve studied hazardous waste management at the University of Oklahoma.
I wanted to be a marine biologist studying whales, but instead I’m a marine biologist studying the effect of wastewater discharges!
Q. Do you support extending Measure B? If so, how would you like to see the money spent?
Couch: Of course I support Measure B. I hope everybody does, because I don’t think we can have a recreation department without that. I’m fairly happy with the way the recreation department has been going. I’d like to see some more passive recreation.
Q. Should the MCSD extend its powers and provide additional services? If so, how?
Couch: I’m not in favor of having them extend their services. I’d like to see them just deal with the problems they have right now. Q. How should the MCSD upgrade its sewer system?
Couch: They have a contract with an engineer to actually do that, so I’m waiting to see that report. I’d like to see them continue to have a natural treatment system, because they’re the most cost effective to operate. If we go to a more technologically advanced energy-intensive system, that could result in higher rates.
Q. What’s your view of how the board dealt with its conflict with former MCSD Manager Marking?
Couch: I thought it was good that the board accepted Marking’s resignation. We have a new manager now – it all worked out.
Q. What would you like to accomplish on the board?
Couch: I want to restore the “community” in the Community Services, because I don’t feel from my years of going to the board that they always represent the best interests of the community. Sometimes they put development interests over the best interests of the community.
I want to look at different funding streams for actually paying for new infrastructure. The wastewater plant will cost money, and that will be either a rate increase or a bond measure. I’d like to see them start charging new development a capacity fee. That’s a wild idea from the progressive city of Redding.
The district charges a sewer line capacity fee, and I’m investigating the history of that. I think they used to charge more, and then when Marking had been here for two years, he dropped it way down. That [the existing capacity fee] is just for the sewage collection system. There should also be one for the wastewater plant. There should also be one for the drinking water system.
That way when you have new development that puts the infrastructure over its availability, and you have to expand it, you have a pocket of money to start with, instead of needing a rate increase or a bond measure. It’s a fairer way to deal with growth.
I also want to make sure that people are better educated about our wastewater treatment system. I do that for the city of Arcata, but we don’t do a lot of that here.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing MCSD?
Couch: Providing the infrastructure for the growth that has been already permitted and planned by the county, and for the growth estimates that have been made for McKinleyville.
I also support the McKinleyville Land Trust and the people who try to preserve open space. I’d like to preserve the rural charm of McKinleyville, but I don’t know how to do that on a district basis.
Q. What is your occupation?
Couch: I’m a wastewater operator. That’s a state-licensed position.
Q. How long have you lived in McKinleyville?
Couch: Twenty-seven years, and owned property for 25 of those years

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