News

Carlsborg sewer plan moves ahead

 

by AMANDA WINTERS

Sequim Gazette


After a four-year freeze on development and slow-moving progress on a proposed sewer system, it looks like Carlsborg finally is moving forward.

 

At a Clallam County Commissioner work session June 12, Commissioner Mike Chapman said the interim controls put in place in 2008 and extended every six months since are no longer effective. The Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board dismissed its finding of noncompliance against the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area on June 1. The original finding declared the Carlsborg UGA lacked a sewer plan and therefore was out of compliance with state law. That’s when commissioners enacted the original interim controls to maintain compliance with the state Growth Management Act.

 

Chapman said the interim control ordinance was written in such a way that if the hearings board reversed its decision, the moratorium would immediately be lifted.

 

 

“It’s over,” Chapman said.

 

Commissioners may meet with Department of Community Development Director Sheila Miller to discuss setting conditions on permits in the UGA since there still are issues of septic systems potentially posing a threat to water quality.

 

The county and Clallam County PUD continue to move forward with a proposed sewer and wastewater treatment system to serve the UGA.


Plan approved

PUD commissioners approved a facilities plan and sent it to the state Department of Ecology on June 6. Clallam County commissioners heard a presentation on the updated plan at their June 12 work session.

 

John Wilson, with BHC Consultants, told the commissioners the goal of the wastewater treatment system is to provide sewers to residents and businesses within the UGA, assure compliance with the Growth Management Act, enable economic development and improve groundwater quality.

 

Nitrate levels in the PUD’s Carlsborg well are trending upward, he said. The addition of more septic systems would add nitrates to the groundwater, worsening the problem, he said.

 

Public comment collected on the facilities plan through June 1 led to a change in the placement of the wastewater treatment facilities.

 

As a result of public comment the treatment facilities will be smaller and located at the PUD’s Idea Place property, Wilson said.

 

Because the county agreed to commit $10 million from its Opportunity Fund to repay a loan through the state Public Works Trust Fund, a local utility district is not needed nor is it necessary to impose an assessment on property owners to pay for the system, he said. Because of that, there can be a more flexible initial sewer system to meet property owners’ interests with incentives to hook up sooner rather than later, he said.


Treated water

Wilson said the water treated through the system will be of higher quality than the water in the Dungeness River or Matriotti Creek.

 

The water could be used for non-potable purposes including landscape irrigation, fire training at the Fire District 3 training grounds, industrial and commercial processes or in toilets, he said. Consultants considered treating the water in Carlsborg as well as piping the water to Sequim for treatment and determined the Carlsborg option to be the most feasible and cost-effective, Wilson said. The annual operations and maintenance costs of treating the water in Carlsborg would be about $310,000, he said.


The cost

Wilson estimated the entire capital cost of the project is $15.6 million, with $14 million committed so far.

 

“Can the cost be reduced? I think so,” he said.

 

Wilson said one way costs could be reduced is by making the wastewater treatment and wastewater collection aspects two different projects and bidding them as separate packages.

 

Projected to serve 120 customers after two years, Wilson said the monthly sewer rate for each customer could start at $60.

 

There also would be a connection charge, which could be incentivized to encourage people to connect sooner rather than later, he said.

 

If such a program were established, connection charges potentially could range from $100-$1,000 during the pre-design phase, $1,000-$5,000 during the pre-construction phase and $5,000-$10,000 if connected two years after construction, he said.

 

Next steps

The Department of Ecology is expected to approve the facilities plan by August. In the meantime, Wilson recommends county and PUD leaders form an inter-local agreement about the project and start designing it as soon as possible.

 

As things stand now, construction may not begin until January 2014 with completion expected around March 2015 and another four months past that until people could connect to the sewer system.

 

He also suggested dividing the construction contracts into specialties. Miller agreed with that suggestion.

 

PUD General Manager Doug Nass said when the facilities plan is approved, the PUD intends to pursue more funding.

 

Commissioner Jim McEntire said he’d like to cut a year off the timeline.

 

“Time is money,” he said.

 

See the facilities plan at: www.clallampud.net/water/sewer_study.asp.


Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

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