By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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County commissioners on Monday directed Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin to submit the plan to the state Department of Ecology for review.
The amended wastewater facilities plan contains a recommendation to pipe sewage from a collection system in Carlsborg to the existing treatment plant in Sequim.
The 408-page document updates a 2012 facility plan that called for a new treatment plant to be built in Carlsborg.
“We incorporated that [change] into the amended facility plan, recalculated the cost comparison between the Sequim option and the Carlsborg option, and have come up with a recommendation to pursue the Sequim option,” Martin told the three commissioners in their work session.
“The reasoning for that recommendation is in the facility plan, but primarily it relates to significantly less capital cost and life cycle cost in doing that and significantly less risk, particularly regulatory risk, related to a new small treatment plant starting up that doesn’t really have the option of a saltwater discharge.”
The 15-year cost of the Sequim option is projected to be $17.2 million, compared to $21.7 million for Carlsborg treatment.
“It’s not even close, as far as the total capital and [operations and maintenance] costs for the first 15 years of the life cycle, and again going out to 2050,” said Commissioner Jim McEntire, whose district covers Carlsborg and the eastern third of the county.
By 2050, the projected total cost of the Sequim option is $41.2 million, compared to $54.1 million for the Carlsborg alternative.
“Any time you put numbers out that far into the future, you’ve got to look at them with a little bit of caution, but at least the first 15-year number is clear in my mind about which alternative we want to pick,” McEntire said.
“That’s been kind of intuitive for me up to this point, but here’s the numerical proof of it.”
McEntire added: “I don’t see anything but green lights as far as this facility plan goes.”
Whichever option the commissioners pick, Carlsborg is scheduled to have a Class A sewer system up and running by 2016.
Martin said the new draft incorporates Commissioner Mike Doherty’s interest in knowing what it would cost to treat the wastewater in Sequim and pipe it back to Carlsborg to recharge the aquifers on the west side of the Dungeness River.
“It turns out that it’s significantly more expensive,” Martin said.
“I think it adds $5 million to $6 million to the project with very little, if any, environmental benefit or mitigation benefit in doing that.”
As Ecology conducts its review, the county and its consultants will take the facility plan to the public and initiate an environmental review.
The document is available on the Clallam County website at www.clallam.net.
“We’ll meet with the Carlsborg Citizen Advisory Committee [today] to let them know that the draft is available, give them an idea of what’s in it and start their review of the plan,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, Clallam County is working with the city of Sequim on an interlocal agreement for the use of the city sewer.
It is also in talks with the Clallam County Public Utility District on long-range water issues for Carlsborg.
Although much of the facility plan was vetted in its 2012 version, the Ecology review will likely take several months, Martin said,
“I think they will look more critically at the pump station and the force main that transmits the water to Sequim,” Martin said.
The Sequim treatment option involves a pump station on the west side of Carlsborg Road at the Olympic Discovery Trail crossing.
The wastewater will be carried through a transmission line across the Dungeness River — likely over the U.S. Highway 101 bridge — to the city sewer.
Without its own sewer 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.
Commissioner Mike Chapman said he has supported the Carlsborg sewer project for more than a decade and “wholeheartedly” supports the recommended Sequim option.
“I think it’s better for the taxpayer, and it’s better for the city of Sequim,” Chapman said.
“For a few years there, it wasn’t the recommended option, and that caused me great distress.”
McEntire and Chapman thanked Sequim Public Works Director Paul Haines, who was in attendance, for working with the county and its consultants.
Doherty said he still had concerns about the effect of climate change on the future water supply for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
“As I’ve mentioned several times, in my lifetime I’m seeing a big snowpack in the middle Olympics noticeably shrink,” Doherty said.
“I don’t know about the connectivity to the aquifers below, but to a slow Irish guy, there’s got to be some connection there. Now maybe that’s not true, but I just have a concern. And so I’m hoping when I read the material I’ll find answers to that.”
Doherty debated Chapman about the genesis of Ecology’s water rule for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley and called for a major water resource study.
“Right now, we’re not looking at the total long-range water supply in the east end of Clallam,” Doherty said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.