Port Hadlock’s urban growth area is a small step closer to having a sewer system of its own following the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners’ vote for a modern piece of equipment.
The three commissioners voted Monday to issue a call for bids on a modular membrane bio reactor (MBR), an apparatus that filters solids from sewage to produce class A water.
This highly treated water would go into an infiltration basin, then into the groundwater to recharge Chimacum Creek, said Bob Wheeler, the Port Hadlock sewer project manager for Jefferson County.
The creek, whose east and west forks run through the Beaver and Center valleys, is a salmonid-supporting stream the Northwest Salmon Coalition has sought to restore; it also flows through a number of family farms.
Port Gamble in Kitsap County has chosen an MBR for its wastewater treatment facility, Wheeler said, adding that the modular unit is easier for communities to handle since it can be loaded onto a truck and delivered.
The call for bids on an MBR will go out this month, said District 1 Commissioner Kate Dean.
No date has been set for when construction of the wastewater treatment plant will start.
The cost of designing and building a sewer system is far beyond what this rural community can handle on its own, Dean said, so funding must be awarded from state and federal sources.
Wheeler said Port Hadlock’s sewer, with an estimated cost of $2.7 million, does have a $1.4 million appropriation from the state, which helped Jefferson County move forward on the membrane bio reactor.
The county applied for an Economic Development Authority grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce last summer; that application was turned down but led to “a good conversation,” Wheeler said.
“They encouraged us to keep in touch,” he said, adding he’ll continue to seek various sources of funds for the facility, which will be built on county land off state Highway 116 near the Jefferson County Library.
“The land is all ready to go,” and since it’s a former gravel pit, “it’s already been disturbed,” he said.
Both Wheeler and Dean said the project will change Port Hadlock’s future.
With the installation of a sewer, the urban growth area there will be able to support businesses, job growth and added affordable housing development, Dean said.
As for existing businesses and residents connecting with the sewer system, she said the county will take a phased approach, starting with the business core.
“There are rumors going around [that sewer hookup] is going to be forced on people; not true,” Dean said.
As planning progresses, Wheeler said the actual costs of building the wastewater treatment system will be known — and made public.
“The important thing,” Dean said, “is we are really trying to keep in mind affordablity for users.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]