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Plan to treat Carlsborg wastewater in Sequim nears final stages
The option to transport wastewater from the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area to the Sequim Water Reclamation Facility is well under way. Although the plan for a public sewer system has taken a few twists and turns throughout the years of planning, the option to utilize Sequim’s existing facility appears favorable among city and county officials.
The amended plan to treat wastewater from the Carlsborg Urban Grown Area includes the construction of a collection system and lift station in Carlsborg and the ability to route the wastewater to Sequim.
The initial capital cost of the Sequim alternative is estimated at $13,340,500 through 2030. County officials are prepared to pay for this with a $10 million loan from the Washington State Public Works Trust Fund and funds from the Clallam County Opportunity Fund allocated to the Carlsborg Sewer Fund that was created in 2010.
“I am delighted because the budget we’ve created for this of around $14 million can comfortably cover the cost with about a 20-percent margin built in for any unexpected costs,” said Jim McEntire, Clallam County commissioner.
Compared to the Carlsborg alternative, treating the wastewater in Sequim is predicted to have both reduced capital and operating costs and ultimately save more than $13 million in life-cycle costs between 2015-2050, according to the amended facilities plan.
By 2050, the estimated cost to the county to pursue the Sequim alternative is about $41 million.
To move forward with the amended plan and convey wastewater from a pump station in Carlsborg across the Dungeness River, likely under the U.S. Highway 101 bridge and into the city’s sewer main at Grant Road, a 410-page amended Carlsborg wastewater facilities plan is under review by the Department of Ecology. County officials expect to get feedback from Ecology no later than the end of September.
During the interim, Bob Martin, Clallam County Public Works administrative director, has presented the Sequim alternative to the Carlsborg Community Advisory Council, Clallam County Board of Commissioners and the Sequim City Council.
“Although it seems like the county is presenting this proposal, at this point it is a joint proposal by the city and county,” said Steve Burkett, city manager. “The city has been working closely with the county to prepare this proposal.”
The draft for an inter-local agreement between the county and city should be done by the end of the month, Martin said. The assumption is the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area will act as a wholesale customer in order to utilize the city’s water reclamation facility.
Assuming both the Sequim City Council and county commissioners adopt an inter-local agreement based on predictions thus far, the county would be charged $0.0098 (slightly less than one penny) per gallon on wastewater treated, said Paul Haines, City of Sequim Public Works director. The annual income gained by the city depends on the amount of daily flow coming from the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area, and according to county officials’ assumptions, this amount of daily wastewater flow should grow annually.
The price per gallon of wastewater treated also can fluctuate annually to reflect the maintenance and operations cost of the Sequim Water Reclamation Facility, Haines said.
The initial buy-in payment made to the city is estimated at $1.05 million and includes part of the project costs, such as Sequim collection system upgrades needed to adequately serve the Carlsborg Urban Growth area as well.
In anticipation of future growth in the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area, county officials will need to reserve an appropriate amount of the Sequim Water Reclamation Facility’s treatment capacity. If the estimated capacity is reserved and therefore purchased in 2015, it will cost the county $898,900, Martin said.
This purchase is included in the initial buy-in cost and would guarantee the needed capacity at the treatment facility to serve the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area for the next 20 years.
The county also will pay an appropriate percentage of capital improvement projects as needed.
Martin anticipates phasing out all septic systems within a 10- to 15-year timeframe.
“The reason for phasing out septic systems is because we keep getting data with increased levels of nitrates, including data from the well the Public Utilities District (PUD) uses in the area,” Martin said.
Once connected to the public sewer system, the monthly cost to residents within the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area is estimated to be $65-$70, Martin said. However, the more costly part for residents is the initial price to hook up to the public sewer system, which likely will range from $7,000-$7,500.
In order to entice more residents to connect to the public sewer system sooner rather than later, county officials plan to offer a reduced connection rate of $500 for the first two years.
Troye Jarmuth, chairman of the Carlsborg Community Advisory Council, pointed out the “unavoidable out-of-pocket expense” property owners also must pay given they are responsible to get their wastewater from their property to the public sewer system line for connection. Based on her research and estimates, Jarmuth predicts this expense could cost an individual property owner $2,000-$7,000.
Although a primary concern from Carlsborg residents regarding the use of the Sequim Water Reclamation Facility was reduced local control, Jarmuth feels these concerns have been eased by the fact the county will be treated as a wholesale customer by the city and the two entities will have an established memorandum of understanding.
“When he (Martin) explained the benefits about going with the Sequim alternative, it made sense,” Jarmuth said. “Sequim has a highly recognized treatment facility so why wouldn’t we want to piggy back on their wisdom?”
When re-evaluating and creating an amended Carlsborg wastewater facilities plan, county officials looked for both a sensible and cost-effective approach, McEntire said. Pursuing the Sequim alternative not only solved the problem of building a sewer treatment facility near Carlsborg neighborhoods, but it also helps spread the cost of operating the Sequim facility, which isn’t even at capacity.
“It’s kind of a win all the way around which is really rare in local government,” McEntire said.
Despite being slightly behind schedule, Martin said he still anticipates completing the construction of the necessary infrastructure by 2015 and having the system operational by 2016. While county and city officials await feedback from the Department of Ecology, Martin said they’re designing the Carlsborg collection system and it is about 70 percent complete.
“Two or three years ago this train was on a completely different track,” Burkett said. “This is a good example of inter-government cooperation.”
For more information on the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area sewer project, visit www.clallam.net/publicworks.
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org.