Northwest NEWS

December 6, 1999

Editorial

Opinion

Fimia says wastewater compromise fails local and regional concerns

   Metropolitan King County Councilmember Maggi Fimia says the regional wastewater compromise approved by the full council is neither regional nor a compromise.

   "If this were a true regional vision, we would be actually connecting water conservation, water reclamation, and water treatment," said Fimia. "There are policy statements and token dollars for these, but no significant dollars.

   "This was never about whether or not we need additional capacity," added Fimia. "It was about where and when that capacity is needed."

   Fimia said other viable, much less expensive, strategies were developed by the Wastewater Division, but never given serious consideration by the Chair of the Regional Water Quality Committee, Larry Phillips.

   "The debate was driven more by where we could not build additional capacity, rather than what strategy gives us the most for our dollars," said Fimia. "The true compromise was crafted by the County Council and passed out in June. It was to build a third plant and a larger Kenmore pipe to carry flows to West Point."

   Fimia said both she and the city councilmembers from Lake Forest Park and Kenmore supported the compromise.

   "Unfortunately, Executive Sims rejected that strategy and threatened a veto if the Kenmore pipe stayed in the plan," Fimia added.

   Fimia said the debate has helped to focus the attention on North Lake Washington, which is an at-risk area with our present wastewater management infrastructure and practices. The compromise plan does stipulate that the new pipe's design will allow for an extension to Matthews Beach in subsequent years as a replacement for the existing lakeline. It also includes money for a seismic study of the existing lakeline, and monitors and a backup generator to measure sewage and help prevent breakdowns during sustained storms.

   Fimia's concerns stemmed from recommendations made by independent engineers, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore city councils, and the Northshore Utility District, who questioned the plan's integrity without the second line (Kenmore Interceptor).

   "System-wide, it's not the best proposal available for protecting the environment or the taxpayer's checkbook," said Fimia. "The mismatched treatment and conveyance capacity within the plan forego opportunities for regional efficiency. We continue to trade away our regional goals for a tit-for-tat sense of equity."