Substantial completion achieved for Carlsborg sewer, securing lower interest rate

In what was described as a “woo-hoo moment,” Clallam County demonstrated substantial completion of the Carlsborg sewer system on March 31.

Substantial completion means that water can be pumped through the gravity lines and force mains from the unincorporated community west of Sequim to the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

Clallam County had been racing against an April 1 deadline to achieve substantial completion of the sewer to secure a 0.25 percent interest rate on a $10 million state loan.

“That’s an important milestone,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said at an April 3 work session.

“It certainly involved an awful lot of hard work on a lot of people’s parts.”

Had the county failed to achieve substantial completion by Friday, the interest rate would have been 0.5 percent, a difference of about $250,000.

“It was a good effort by everybody and glad to see it happen,” county engineer Ross Tyler said.

“We have not certified it yet. We have met the milestone that we need and that’s pumping water from Carlsborg into the city of Sequim.”

The system will be operational for customers who have connected to the sewer later this month.

Tyler said he wasn’t sure the county would achieve substantial completion before April 1.

“Honestly, when I told you guys that this would be a woo-hoo moment, I really, throughout this whole process, we’ve been at 50-50 in my head, which I don’t like to be as an engineer at all,” Tyler said.

“I like to be 110 percent. This was not a ploy on my part to kind of downplay things. This could have gone the other way just as well.”

Pacific Civil &Infrastructure of Federal Way is the main contractor for the sewer project. The contractor was facing a “whole string” of issues beyond its control as it worked to meet the deadline, Tyler said.

“It all came together,” Tyler said. “The consultants worked well and the contractor has done a very good job.”

Once the $9.22 million 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.

Connection fees, which were $500 prior to April 1, will be $1,500 through March 2019 and $8,000 after that.

Meggan Uecker, Clallam County solid waste coordinator, said the system had the equivalent of 108.5 residential customers signed up to use the system as of March 31.

“That was a little better than we expected,” Uecker said in a April 3 interview.

County officials expected to have about 90 signed up at this stage, Uecker said.

The monthly base rate for sewer customers will be $26 for the equivalent of one residential unit or ERU.

The consumption rate for those with a metered water supply will be $8.66 per 100 cubic feet of water used per month.

Non-metered customers will pay a flat monthly fee of $78.80 per ERU to use the system, according to a sewer ordinance that commissioners adopted last month.

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

The sewer main runs under Carlsborg Road and across the Dungeness River on the U.S. Highway 101 bridge.

Most of Carlsborg Road has been repaved except for a short section just north of the highway, Ozias said.

“I know that the Carlsborg business community is going to be pretty happy to have that road back in good shape,” Ozias said.

In other news from the work session, commissioners were briefed on emergency management activities.

Clallam County Emergency Management is a division of the Sheriff’s Office. It is directed by Undersheriff Ron Cameron and coordinated by Penelope Linterman and Jamye Wisecup.

Cameron said the division will participate in a May tabletop drill simulating a yet-to-be-divulged disaster with Jefferson County Emergency Management.

Lynn Sterbenz was named Jefferson County Emergency Management director late last year.

“She’s been very, very helpful in putting that (exercise) together,” Cameron said.

The idea of the exercise is to coordinate the Emergency Operations Centers in both counties to improve effectiveness.

Cameron said he did not know what type of disaster would be simulated in the May exercise.

“We think it’s going to be hazard mitigation, hazard material like a spill at Dungeness or Discovery Bay or something like that that’s going to effect both of us,” Cameron said. “But I don’t know.”

Last June, Clallam and Jefferson counties joined local, state and federal emergency management officials in Cascadia Rising, a four-day simulation of the response to a magnitude 9.0-earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone and resulting tsunami.

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@peninsula dailynews.com

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