By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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All that’s needed is money.
“The project is shovel-ready,” said Jefferson County Administrator Philip Morley.
“All we need is a way to pay for it.”
Approximately $37 million is needed for the construction of the plant, which would connect those in the 1,290-population urban growth area to sewers.
In turn, the sewer service would allow a greater development density for the unincorporated area, which has around 5,000 residents.
“We need to get the government interested in supporting this. Right now, they are supporting other things,” said county Public Works Director Monte Reinders.
“We need to reduce the amount that will come from the users of the system as much as possible.”
The county has divided its designated Irondale-Port Hadlock urban growth area into six areas that will be addressed in sequence, beginning with the core area, which is central Port Hadlock along state Highway 116 and Chimacum Road.
The estimated cost of constructing the treatment plant is $17 million, while the collection facility for the first three zones — central Hadlock-Irondale, the Old Alcohol Plant near the marina and Rhody Drive — is $20 million, Reinders said.
The goal, Reinders said, is to finance the system in such a way that the average household pays around $60 per month for service.
This will be amortized over a 20-year period to pay for the projected $20,000-per-customer cost to install the system, Reinders said.
“This cost is roughly equivalent to the cost of a septic system, which can fail at any time,” Reinders said.
“It’s better for the user because they will pay a certain amount each month and don’t have to worry about maintenance or breakdowns,”
Connection fees also will generate income, with a total of $17 million deemed an acceptable amount for the users to assume, he said.
Landowners and homebuilders will be able to save money in the long run because they will be able to develop land with greater density and won’t have to allocate property for septic drainfields, he said.
Also, there will be an opportunity for more retail stores, but there currently are no available parcels large enough to accommodate a so-called “big box” store, he said.
The county has acquired an old gravel pit south of Highway 116 and north of Lopeman Road, bordered by residential areas on the east and west, for the treatment plant.
The land for an infiltration plant also has been acquired south of Lopeman Road.
Reinders said the $37 million needs to be pledged or in hand before beginning the project, which will take about two years to construct.
He expects the money to come from the state, he said, because state regulations have mandated sewer service in urban growth areas.
If the project is not completed, nothing will change in Port Hadlock, he noted.
“What you see is what you get,” Reinders said.
Morley said County Commissioner John Austin is in Washington, D.C., this week for a meeting of the National Association of Counties and plans to approach the federal congressional delegation with a request for funding the system.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.