By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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The three-year timeline for the $13.9 million project was presented Monday to a summit of Clallam County commissioners, Sequim City Council members and Clallam County Public Utility District Commission President Ted Simpson at the Sequim Transit Center.
It included a chart with construction schedules and targets for bid openings, fee-ordinance reviews and construction for the unincorporated community west of Sequim.
Closer than ever
“We are closer than I think we’ve ever been, and I’ve been with it since 1995,” county Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin said.
“This is the third or fourth iteration of a sewage plan, and we are very close to getting this project in the hands of the engineers.”
About 30 onlookers were in the audience, though the elected officials did not take comments or questions from the public.
Interlocal agreements on financing the sewer system still must be negotiated between the PUD, which will own and operate the system, and the county beginning in January, according to the schedule chart.
Project design would occur mostly in 2013, while discussion of a user-fee ordinance would begin in 2014, when a collection system will be built.
A conveyance system to transport the sewage from Carlsborg to the Sequim treatment plant would be built in 2015.
“The chart is the direction we want to go,” PUD General Manager Doug Nass said.
The county or PUD could oversee the project, Martin said.
The PUD has received a $10 million loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund to build the system, while the county will contribute $4.8 million to the effort.
“It looks like we’ve got the amount of financing necessary at this point,” Martin said Tuesday.
An interlocal agreement also must be negotiated among the city of Sequim, the county and the PUD to develop rates and fees.
“We are ready to start the design and construction of a system and certainly a collection system in Carlsborg,” Martin said.
“There’s no reason we can’t start to get going once we decide the roles.”
The facility plan approved by the state Department of Ecology called for a treatment plant to be built in Carlsborg, but those plans have changed — and the changes require Ecology’s approval.
“I think Ecology will be favorable toward this option,” Martin said.
The plan now calls for the less-expensive option of transporting the sewage through about 3 miles of new piping for treatment at the city’s water reclamation treatment plant, Martin said.
County, city and PUD officials reached consensus at a Nov. 5 commissioners’ work session that pursuing the Sequim treatment option was “the more logical” way to go, Martin said.
Piping the sewage to Sequim reduces the cost of the project mainly by saving on operating costs, Martin said.
Building a Carlsborg treatment plant would increase the project cost to $15.7 million and leave the project about $1 million short of funds, he said.
A likely sewage route from Carlsborg to Sequim would be over the Dungeness River through piping under the U.S. Highway 101 bridge that crosses the waterway between Sequim and Carlsborg, Martin said Tuesday.
Tom Martin, with PUD water and wastewater systems, has worked on the project since 2006.
“This is tentative and, I think, optimistic,” Tom Martin said, cautioning that Ecology hasn’t approved it and that the PUD must be involved in setting rates.
“This is a good start,” he added.
County Commissioner Jim McEntire, who represents the Sequim area, urged concerted action on getting the interlocal agreements in order.
Monday night’s meeting and the November meeting “mark an important milestone here, and we ought not lose sight of that fact,” he said.
Sequim Mayor Ken Hays echoed the importance of the meeting in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
“I sort of feel like we do have consensus, to tell you the truth,” he said.
“We have consensus that the Sequim [treatment] option is seen as the best one.
“It’s good for the environment, the economies are there — it’s just a matter of working through the details.”
Meeting attendees also reviewed information on Water Resource Inventory Area 18 and the updating of the city comprehensive land-use plan.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.