July 24, 2000
CARNATION--If the latest sewer proposal gets the go-ahead from the City Council, residents of the oldest part of the city and downtown business owners may expect to soon replace their outdated septic tanks with small grinder pumps that will push waste to a treatment plant.
Out of three system possibilities, the other two using either gravity or a vacuum, the grinder with a low pressure system at each residence is the most affordable and offers the best protection to groundwater and the Snoqualmie River, consultants told residents at an informational forum at the Sno-Valley Senior Center last week.
The sewer study, conducted by American Engineering, was authorized by the City Council and the Carnation Sewer Advisory Committee in response to building and growth restrictions caused by septic system limitations.
The total project would be conducted in four separate phases, with the newest developments in town to be hooked up last. The timeline states that construction of the Phase One plant and collection system could begin by fall 2001.
The proposal says that the installation of sewers "...will eliminate potential impacts to groundwater from septic systems, allow increased development in the Central Business District, and allow the construction of multi-unit, senior, and low-income residences in Carnation's expansion area."
Although effluent from the treatment plant initially will flow into the Snoqualmie River, later phases will allow for the reuse of water which may be used for irrigation or other land use applications, the plan says.
"This is a 20-year comprehensive sewer plan," American Engineering president Einar Gunderson told residents. "What is exciting is that the cost seems to be lower than expected." Total costs for Phase One, including the collection system and the treatment plant, are expected to be approximately $6,230,000. The plant will be located at the end of Entwistle and will "be expandable over time," said Gunderson.
According to the plan, initial users of the treatment plant will be assessed approximately $2,800 per single-family residence. The plan states that the assessment will be "comprised of a fee for the collection system and one for the treatment plant. Commercial users similarly would pay the same amount, depending on the size of the property. For example, a single-family residence on an 8,000-square-foot lot would pay $1,700 for collection and $1,100 for treatment for a total of $2,800."
Jim Morgan, financial consultant, said residents could be assessed through a local improvement district using a lien against the property, a surcharge for a certain number of years, or residents could make a direct payment to the city. Low interest loans and state and federal grants are available to help with construction costs, he said.
A user rate of $51 per month will also be charged, and each residence would pay the same. The monthly rate covers administrative costs, maintenance, operation, utility taxes, depreciation, and debt service, Morgan said.
Some residents, though, questioned the need for a sewage treatment plant.
Mike Plant said tests looking for pollution from septic systems were done on test wells, "but no pollution was found. We are even using one of our test wells for drinking water. Many of our septic systems are good, and instead of going to sewers, we should be maintaining them."
But Gunderson insisted that a treatment plant is better than septic systems. "This will give the city a better chance of consistently providng high quality effluent for reuse," he said. "Building regulations are strong. Failing systems won't even let you remodel your house."
Cheryl Kenyon, co-owner of NAPA Auto Parts, agreed. "I want to emphasize that if anyone's home is destroyed by fire or an earthquake, they will not be able to get permits to rebuild if they have a septic system," she said. "I see it as mandatory. If you want to be homeless, protest the sewer. Sewers are the future. As business owners, we had a hard time getting permits ... it's quite a process to battle King County."