Bob Martin, administrative director of Clallam County Public Works, says everything appears to be falling into place for the new Carlsborg sewer system. The system has been a source of sore disagreement for more than five years.
Under the state’s Growth Management Act, the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area must have plans for certain infrastructure, including plans and funding for a sewer system.
The plan left many residents upset, with some saying they would be required to hook up to an expensive system while abandoning functioning septic tanks.
This week Martin said it’s unlikely the residents will be required to hook up to the system if they have a septic system in good working order.
However, Martin added, the county will likely require a hook-up “if you’re near (the system) and developing your property.”
He said those who choose to hook up early will pay less.
Larger users will be coaxed into the system with “attractive fees,” he added.
Martin said the county has hired a consulting firm to produce a financial plan for the new system. That will include drafting connection policies and fees.
Through much of the conversation regarding the system the county assumed the Clallam County Public Utility District would construct and manage the system.
PUD spokesman Mike Howe said the county and PUD have abandoned that plan, with both agreeing the county is better suited to the task. “It just made more sense for the county to build it and operate it,” he said.
Paying it forward
Martin said the funding is in place for the $14 million project, with $10 million of the total provided by a loan from the state. The county will repay the state’s loan through its Opportunity Fund. The county has already contributed another $4 million to the project.
The waste will be piped to the City of Sequim’s sewage treatment plant.
County commissioners originally considered a plan to build a treatment plant in Carlsborg, but agreed to pursue the Sequim option when Martin estimated that simply moving the wastes to Sequim would save more than $2.6 million over 20 years.
Martin also recommended leaving the treated water in Sequim rather than piping it back.
Paul Haines, Sequim public works director, told the commissioners the city is eager to be a part of an agreement.
“We have the capacity at our plant we’d like to utilize especially by people who need sewer service in the region,” he said.
The City of Sequim generally uses about half of its sewage capacity, Haines said, adding Carlsborg would increase capacity usage by about 10 percent. He said it will be approximately 20 years before the city needs to consider expanding reused water storage.
Carlsborg utility customers will help the city pay off debt on the remodeled Sequim Water Reclamation Facility and in future years will help keep rates low.
Martin said he was hoping to meet with Sequim officials as early as this week to refine the plan.
Fording the river
Martin said the county only will have to move the wastes three miles to hook up to the Sequim system.
He said the needed piping will be relatively easy to install.
Consultants have so far found “no fatal flaws” in a plan to run the pipe through the U.S. Highway 101 bridge over the river. “It’s doable,” Martin said, noting there are a number of conduits through the bridge superstructure that are now unused.
There are still a few hurdles to jump through, including hiring a consultant to look at the impact on water rights in Carlsborg if all of the water remains in Sequim.
The county also is preparing a facility plan amendment for the Washington Department of Ecology that reflects the plan to treat the wastes in Sequim’s facility.
Martin said he anticipates most of the construction will be accomplished in 2015.