Northwest NEWS

September 6, 1999


Solution must be fair, cost-effective, and workable

   I am writing in response to your August 23 article regarding the controversy over a new sewer pipe for Kenmore or a less expensive and less intrusive option: storage tanks that hold excess flows during heavy rains.

   The parallel Kenmore Interceptor is a bad idea. It is an expensive project ($120-$160 million) that will give the region's ratepayers very little return for the investment. It will have to be built along a highly-congested transportation corridor, along the Burke-Gilman Trail, or in Lake Washington.

   The pipe is part of a larger plan that includes a new sewage treatment plant to serve north King County and south Snohomish County by 2010. After the new plant is built, the pipe will no longer be needed, and there are less expensive, more flexible ways to build the capacity needed to protect the communities north of Lake Washington from sewage spills before the new treatment plant is built.

   My plan to build storage is based on sound engineering and extensive analysis of the existing sewage system and flows in the region. Perhaps my biggest concern about the proposed sewer pipe is that it simply won't work. Attempting to build both a new Kenmore Interceptor and the third treatment plant at the same time may slow progress on both projects, making it difficult to complete either in a timely manner.

   Our growing region needs to build a new sewage treatment plant to add capacity, flexibility, reliability, and equity. A new plant reduces the need to build parallel pipes, like the Kenmore Interceptor, in densely developed areas. The plan has had unparalleled technical analysis and review.

   The King County Council, including Councilmember Maggie Fimia, one of the primary supporters of the new pipe, recently voted to approve the third treatment plant.

   Protecting communities from sewage spills is a top priority. After extensive public review and independent expert analysis, a plan is before the King County Council that protects public health and the environment, is cost-effective and fair, and most importantly, will work. Adding extra expensive sewer lines will not.

Ron Sims, King County Executive