Northwest NEWS

September 6, 1999

Local News

Kenmore and Lake Forest Park reject sewer tanks

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   KENMORE--In a looming battle that promises to raise (lower?) "dirty politics" to the next level, the Kenmore and Lake Forest Park city councils have thrown their combined weight behind testimonies by former Metro sewer administrators that a Kenmore interceptor pipe to West Point is preferable to a ten-year-interim holding tank. Last week, Lake Forest Park voted 6-0 to favor the interceptor, while Kenmore concurred by a 4-3 vote.

   County Executive Sims has threatened to veto the County Council's approved $2 billion sewage plan if they don't remove the interceptor option and support the holding tank plan that he favors. Sims simply says that the $68 million holding tank price is a fiscally more responsible option than the $118 million interceptor price.

   In an Aug. 30 meeting, former Metro wastewater executives Gordon Gabrielson and Dick Warren told the combined city councils that the holding tank would not solve current spillage problems at the north end of Lake Washington, but that a second Kenmore pipe to West Point would. That meeting was called by Northshore's District 1 County Councilmember Maggi Fimia and supported by Council Chair Louise Miller of District 3 and Rob McKenna of District 6.

   Gabrielson, retired West Division Manager for Metro, who supervised the entire West Point project, said Northshore holding tanks have already proven inadequate. Metro built the four-million-gallon Log Boom Park Regulator in the mid-1980s, but it overflowed in the first storm after it opened. Northend lake residents have suffered for years from backup sewage smells in their pipes, and overflow spillage of raw sewage into the lake.

   "It is imperative that these flooding and back-up problems be fixed," Miller said. "The Council is willing to spend an additional $50 million that the tunnel will cost over storage. That is our responsibility."

   Warren, an engineer for the original Metro system, said a tunnel to West Point would involve minimal surface disturbance "at the portals and a few shaft locations."

   "It's foolish to build a 14-million-gallon holding tank for $68 million as an ineffective band-aid measure until the North Treatment Plant is finished in 2010, instead of using the already existing capacity at West Point," said County Councilman Rob McKenna after the Aug. 30 meeting.

   Gabrielson said diverting the proposed holding tank's flow to the $600 million North Treatment Plant would immediately fill half of its capacity, according to McKenna. By contrast, West Point could handle the additional capacity of a Kenmore Parallel Interceptor pipe for at least the next 30 years.