Carlsborg council hears nitrate concerns

Sequim Gazette

The Carlsborg Community Advisory Council reconvened for 2011 with new citizen leadership, structure and information on topics of concern.

The council meetings formerly ran mostly under the guidance of Clallam County senior planner Carol Creasey but Director of Community Development Sheila Roark Miller sought to have the meetings run by the citizen council according to Roberts Rules of Order.

The council was established in August 2008 by the county commissioners to make recommendations regarding the growth and management of the Carlsborg urban growth area, which is at a standstill since the Growth Management Board ruled it was invalid because it lacked sewer facility plans.

Don Butler, who owns a business in the Carlsborg Industrial Park, was elected chair and Troye Jarmuth, a resident within the Carlsborg UGA, was elected vice chair.

“We’re getting so formal,” Jarmuth joked as she took her seat at the front of the room next to Butler.

Nitrates concern county

The council heard two county presentations on nitrates in the Carlsborg UGA, which is one of the reasons the county would like to establish a sewer system.

Creasey stated that while the increasing nitrate levels found in Carlsborg UGA wells are not the reason for the interim controls, which have halted development since 2008, they are a concern and have been for 20 years.

“It’s more of a public health concern,” she said, later adding, “Whenever there are higher concentrations of septics, there are higher levels of nitrates.”

High nitrate levels in drinking water are linked to birth defects, cancer and blue baby syndrome.

Andy Brastad, director of Clallam County Environmental Health, said the composition of soil in Carlsborg, mostly sand and rock, is not as effective in treating waste from septic systems as other soil types.

Brastad said nearly half of Carlsborg’s 543 septic systems are conventional and only remove about 10 percent of nitrogen from the waste. Using equations based on nitrate studies of other areas, Brastad said it is possible 4.3 tons of nitrogen are deposited in Carlsborg each year.

Ann Soule, a hydrogeologist with Clallam County Environmental Health, told the council sources of nitrates include septic systems, fertilizer and agriculture.

A federal study in 1999 of nitrate levels from Sequim Bay to Morse Creek found statistically significant increases in nitrate levels in residential areas. Agricultural areas had increases in nitrate levels as well, but they were not statistically significant, she said.

“You cannot deny the groundwater is degrading,” she said.

LUD process continues

Tom Martin, of the Clallam County Public Utility District, updated the council on the formation process of a local utility district within the UGA.

An LUD is needed to determine the boundaries of the proposed sewer system and establish a mechanism for payment.

Tentative boundaries were established in September 2010 based on a petition signed by landowners within the Carlsborg UGA. Martin said the boundaries could change and the process is far from over.

The PUD is in the first phases of conducting a cost-benefit study specific to each parcel within the proposed LUD, he said. After that, an assessment methodology will be developed to determine how to apply the cost to landowners.

After applying the methodology to each parcel, a public workshop explaining the purpose of the LUD and the assessments will be held, he said. A public hearing will determine whether or not a conditional LUD will be formed and a final petition by landowners will determine the final boundaries.

Martin said he expects the cost-benefit study to be completed in March or April.

The final LUD decision is expected in 2012.

Reach Amanda Winters at



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