Consultant: Piping Carlsborg sewage to Sequim still cheaper option than building system

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The estimated cost of piping sewage from Carlsborg to Sequim remains far cheaper than building a new system in Carlsborg, a consultant told Clallam County commissioners Monday.

Jay Swift, an engineer with Seattle-based Gray & Osborne, said the combined capital, operations and maintenance costs for treating Carlsborg wastewater at the existing Sequim facility is $16.5 million through 2030.

The 15-year cost of building and operating a new Class A wastewater collection, treatment and reclaimed-water reuse system in the hamlet west of Sequim is projected to be $20.8 million, Swift said.

Looking ahead, the Sequim option would cost an additional $21.8 million between 2030 and 2050 compared to $31.2 million for the Carlsborg alternative.

Clallam County is designing a centralized collection system to treat Carlsborg sewage, a requirement of the state Growth Management Act.

“We’re going to be finishing the facility plan in May,” Swift said.

Without its own facility or the use of another community’s, Carlsborg would lose its status as an Urban Growth Area and businesses will not be allowed to expand.

Carlsborg supports about 1,100 jobs. Most of the community is on septic systems.

County Public Works and Administrative Director Bob Martin clued commissioners into his preliminary talks with Sequim Public Works Director Paul Haines about a potential interlocal agreement to use the city treatment plant.

“Right now we’re looking at about 0.92 cents per gallon, and that includes about a 15 percent mark-up, I guess you would say,” Martin said.

“We were always thinking it would be around a penny a gallon. It looks like its a little less than a penny a gallon.”

The envisioned 50-year agreement could be terminated with 10-years notice, ensuring a decade of capacity.

“This agreement is going to be subject to public review and scrutiny, public hearings, approval by the city council, approval by the board of commissioners,” Martin said.

“But we have developed what we think is a comfortable starting point with those discussions that involve in some detail how we will go about purchasing capacity and what that capacity would cost.”

Clallam County last year agreed to take on the Carlsborg project from the Clallam County Public Utility District.

In doing so, it inherited a $10 million loan from the state’s Public Works Trust Fund.

The county has committed an additional $4.3 million to the sewer in a special fund.

Long-term operations and maintenance of the facility would be funded by ratepayers.

Because of the penny-per gallon cost, the Sequim option “offers the ability to say to the users: ‘If you conserve water, you’re going to save significantly on your sewer bill,’” Martin said.

“The sewer bill is going to be much more dependent on how much water you use,” he added.

The Sequim option includes a pump station on the west side of Carlsborg Road at the Olympic Discovery Trail crossing.

“The down sides of treatment in Carlsborg include siting and aesthetics concerns,” Swift said during a two-hour briefing on the sewer Monday.

“Right now, we don’t have a site for a Carlsborg treatment plant. And there’s odors and other issues. There’s the standard NIMBY response for people that are in the neighborhood there: Not in my backyard. A lot of people would not want a treatment plant right next to them, and perhaps understandably.”

Benefits of Sequim treatment include lower costs, reduced risk to the county and a “well-trained professional staff with years of experience,” Swift said.

Most of the treated sewage from the Sequim facility goes back into the aquifer.

The facility is about 40 years old and had a major upgrade in 2009.

Whichever alternative is selected, the long-awaited project is projected to be completed in 2016.

“My overall concern is still having a water resource study done by the county looking into the future,” said Commissioner Mike Doherty, referring to the “big shrinking” of the mid-Olympic snowpack that feeds development, fisheries, irrigation and other uses in the county.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 28. 2014 6:42PM
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