Commissioners reach consensus on Carlsborg sewer

Sequim Gazette staff

Following a few hours of experts’ opinion on Monday, Nov. 5, Clallam County commissioners directed staff to look further into the City of Sequim as an option for treatment of Carlsborg’s sewage.


Commissioner Jim McEntire said that of their options they decided on piping sewage to Sequim because it’s cheaper over the long-term than either building a treatment plant in Carlsborg or piping sewage to Sequim and bringing back reused water.


“There’s a lot of stuff left to do, but we’re on to the next step,” McEntire said.


Bob Martin, the county’s public works administrative director, said building a sewage treatment plant in Carlsborg would cost an estimated $5,860,000, while piping the sewage to Sequim would cost the county approximately $4,161,000. The latter option would save another $1 million through reduced maintenance and operating costs over the next 20 years.


“That’s about $2.6 million over the next 20 years,” he said.


Martin also provided an estimate for piping the treated water back from Sequim to Carlsborg, saying that would add an additional $3 million to the capital costs.


“Obviously, I recommended leaving the treated water in Sequim,” he said.


Martin said the issue of the treated water will grow more important in future years as Clallam PUD, which supplies the water to Carlsborg, requires additional water rights.


Using reclaimed water reduces the demand for water drawn from the aquifer, Martin said.


He added that the reclaimed water may also be used to replenish the available water supply.


McEntire said they’ll cross that water rights bridge when they come to it.


Consensus for Carlsborg’s sewer comes nearly a year after commissioners ruled out the Sequim treatment option.


McEntire said they’ll have to modify or rescind the decision officially to go forward.


“This is a very important milestone that all three governments are on the same paths,” McEntire said.

Paul Haines, Sequim public works director, said 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, and adding Carlsborg would increase capacity usage by about 10 percent. He said it’d be about 20 years before the city needs to consider expanding reused water storage.


If the county, PUD and city were to partner, Haines said adding Carlsborg as utility customers could help the city pay off debt on the remodeled Sequim Water Reclamation Facility while balancing out rates for users later on.

What’s next?

Sheila Roark-Miller, director of community development for the county, said the county is awaiting approval from the Department of Ecology of the facility plan for the project that assesses the impact on the Carlsborg area.


If approved, the county and PUD would need to connect less than three miles of sewer main to the city’s sewer line. Sequim would need to make minor changes to include the new flow.


For the project, county staff is investigating a gravity pump system rather than a pressurized system to ship sewage to Sequim.


McEntire said a gravity system is more expensive in the front end but the cheapest over a period of time.

Roark-Miller said the PUD is involved because the county doesn’t want to be proprietors of pipeline anymore, so the PUD would own and operate the system between Carlsborg and Sequim.


One of the issues county staff must resolve is where the line will cross at the Dungeness River.


Roark-Miller said they’ll see if crossing the river at the U.S. Highway 101 bridge would be an option.


They’d need an agreement with Department of Transportation. Another option is crossing at the Dungeness River Railroad Bridge, but would cost more to reach.


Roark-Miller said Martin is making calls now to see what’s the most viable and least costly.


Another step for the process includes forming the connection policy and incentive programs for potential users.


“In general, the good news for the folks who connect is that nobody’s taxes are going to go up,” McEntire said.


“We want to make it easy for them when the time does come to connect. I expect a lot of folks will want to connect early, and we want to make it an easy decision for those who want to connect later as their septic tanks reach the end of their lives.”


County Administrator Jim Jones said once the facility plan is approved they can start looking into interlocal agreements between the agencies and thereafter begin the design bidding process for the sewage collection system.


“The most optimistic timeframe is that this takes two years before we cut the ribbon,” Jones said.