By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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County commissioners Tuesday voted 2-0, with Commissioner Mike Doherty abstaining, to approve a $1.32 million-maximum contract with Gray & Osborne Inc.
The Seattle-based firm will design a gravity collection system in Carlsborg and a pumping and force main system that potentially could convey wastewater across the Dungeness River to the existing water treatment facility in Sequim.
Gray & Osborne also will revise the sewer facilities plan to provide for wastewater treatment in Sequim and evaluate the water reuse issues raised by the estimated $14 million project, according to an executive summary.
Clallam County is reconsidering an earlier plan to construct a Class A wastewater collection, treatment and reclaimed water reuse system in Carlsborg.
County officials have said the Sequim alternative would cost less and that the city sewer has plenty of capacity.
Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin said Sequim “looks like a promising option.”
“The firm is going to further evaluate it and make a recommendation,” Martin said after the meeting.
Before abstaining from the vote, Doherty said he supports the sewer project but has concerns about ecosystem services and water supply issues.
“It seems to me we are aiming a little early at the preferred option being Sequim,” Doherty said in a work session prior to the business meeting.
“We’re learning more about the ecosystem valuation system, and we know there’s going to be a decreased supply of water. And we’re beginning to shift water out of an area from the unincorporated county into a municipality, and part of their use may be just to pump that [treated water] out into Sequim Bay.”
Doherty added: “It just seems to me, in the long term, there is a need for far more analysis of one of the treatment alternatives at Carlsborg.”
Clallam County has set aside $4.3 million for the sewer and taken out a $10 million loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund to build it.
The loan will be repaid through the county’s Opportunity Fund, an eight-tenths-of-1-percent sales tax used for construction of public facilities that promote economic development, at 0.5 interest through 2048.
The Carlsborg Urban Growth Area needs a sewer to comply with the Growth Management Act.
Carlsborg businesses, which support more than 1,000 jobs, need the UGA status in order to expand under state law.
Martin said the sewer project is still on target to be completed by the end of 2015 and go online in early 2016.
Connection fees for Carlsborg residents who decide to tap into the sewer are still to be determined.
If the county settles on the Sequim option, the sewage could be piped across the Dungeness River via the U.S. Highway 101 bridge, Railroad Bridge, Old Olympic Highway bridge, a new utility bridge or underneath the river.
Commissioner Jim McEntire, whose district covers Carlsborg and the eastern third of the county, said the state Department of Ecology has encouraged the Sequim option.
“They opined, as I recall, that it would be kind of a net plus for the basin for many different reasons,” McEntire said.
“I’m in mind that Ecology seems to be kind of greenlighting, at least conceptually, the idea of treating the wastewater in Sequim.”
Doherty said he would meet with Martin to discuss technologies that would keep the reclaimed water in Carlsborg.
“The other concern I had is just that we are not institutionalizing concerns related to climate change,” he added.
“To have warmer summers, reduced stream-flows and less water, I just think we have to do that for long-term, major infrastructure projects like this.”
Martin told commissioners that Gray & Osborne has a “considerable amount of experience” in Clallam County, having worked with the city of Sequim, Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Clallam Bay Corrections Center and Dry Creek Water Association on utility issues.
“They’re quite familiar with the county,” Martin said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.