Carlsborg sewer law adopted; commissioners change connection requirements

Clallam County has adopted a new ordinance that will regulate the management of the nearly completed Carlsborg sewer system.

The three commissioners voted unanimously March 14 to adopt an ordinance repealing and replacing a previous version that dealt with connection requirements.

“We revised that a little bit and then incorporated that into this new ordinance,” Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin said after a public hearing.

“It’s similar to what we had before.”

The new ordinance shows a base rate of $26 for the equivalent of one residential unit, or ERU, for residential, commercial, industrial and public customers. A previous draft had a $34 base rate for non-residential accounts.

The consumption rate for those with a metered water supply will be $8.66 per 100 cubic feet of water used per month, according to the new law.

Non-metered customers will pay a flat fee of $78.80 per ERU to use a system that will transport effluent from the unincorporated Carlsborg Urban Growth Area to the wastewater treatment facility in the city of Sequim.

Once the system is operational, properties with a septic system within 200 feet of the sewer main or a sub-main will be required to be connected within one year of a change in ownership.

Those who apply for a connection permit prior to April 1 are eligible for a discounted connection fee of $500 per ERU.

Property owners who apply for a connection or submit an application for new development before April 2019 are eligible for a $1,500 connection fee.

The connection fee will be $8,000 for those who connect to the system in the future.

The 21-page ordinance is available on the Clallam County website, www.clallam.net.

No public testimony was given at the public hearing.

The ordinance had been vetted in previous board meetings and work sessions.

It was amended based on testimony provided by the Carlsborg Community Advisory Council, City of Sequim, state officials and private citizens through Feb. 27.

The project includes a new pump station along Carlsborg Road and about 5 miles of mostly 8-inch gravity and pressure lines.

Construction costs, which originally were estimated to be $8.78 million, had risen to $9.22 million as of Tuesday, Martin said after the hearing.

“We’ve added some additional elements into the work,” Martin said. “We also have had some change orders.”

More change orders might be necessary before the work is finished, Martin said.

Last March, commissioners awarded a bid to Pacific Civil &Infrastructure of Federal Way. The winning bid was about $2 million under the engineer’s estimate.

Clallam County is building the infrastructure with a $10 million loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund. The loan will be repaid from the county’s Opportunity Fund, a portion of state sales tax that supports infrastructure in rural areas.

Clallam County and its contractor are racing against an April 1 deadline to achieve “substantial completion” of the system to secure a 0.25 percent interest rate on the 30-year loan.

Substantial completion means that water can be pumped through the system from start to finish. It does not mean that hookups are completed.

The interest rate would be 0.5 percent if substantial completion comes after April 1, a difference of about $250,000.

Martin said he was “guardedly optimistic” that the county would meet the non-negotiable deadline.

“I’m optimistic, but I’m not so sure I would say we’re totally on track,” Martin said in a telephone interview. “It’s going to be really close. Everyone is working toward that goal.”

Martin said the adopted ordinance was based on sewer laws from other jurisdictions.

“There’s a great deal of similarity in these ordinances throughout the state,” Martin told commissioners.

“We relied heavily — and I want to acknowledge, personally, the help that the City of Sequim and City of Port Angeles gave us in putting this ordinance together — we borrowed heavily from their ordinances so that this ordinance is not really out of step with what is pretty common around the state and certainly within the county.”

One sentence was added to a section of the ordinance on side sewer regulations to say: “The owner is responsible for maintenance of the side sewer from the premises to the sewer main connection.”

Commissioners approved the addition based on a recommendation from Sequim officials and Martin.

Clallam County has been planning for a sewer system in Carlsborg since the 1990s. The project began in earnest in 2010, Martin said.

The Growth Management Act requires that urban growth areas have infrastructure to support urban development.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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