Northwest NEWS

June 10, 2002

Front Page

Pro and con: Public airs Brightwater comments

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   The greater the population, the greater the need for wastewater treatment services. King County figures if the region's growth rate continues, it will reach its sewage treatment capacity by 2010. The county currently treats more than 200 million gallons of wastewater every day at its two regional treatment plants. It expects to treat an additional 93 million gallons daily by 2030.
   So, says King County, a new wastewater treatment plant - Brightwater - is necessary.
   The decision about the final location of the new Brightwater facility has not been made. It will either go at the Unocal site in the city of Edmonds or at the Route 9 site in unincorporated Snohomish County, just outside Woodinville. Wherever it goes, Brightwater officials hope the new plant will be treating an average of 36 million gallons of wastewater per day by 2010 and 54 million gallons per day by 2040.
   In addition to the plant, the wastewater treatment system requires pipelines to carry the untreated water to the facility and the treated water away. It requires pump stations to lift the water over hills and high spots, portals to access the tunneled portions of the pipeline, and an outfall pipe that discharges the treated wastewater into Puget Sound.
   Planners are still studying various pipeline routes. If the Unocal plant is chosen, the system would require 11 to 14 miles of pipeline, 0 to 2 new pump stations, 3 to 9 portals and one outfall zone. A Route 9 plant would require 20 to 22 miles of pipeline, 2 to 4 new pump stations, 11 to 15 portals and one outfall pipe.
   Each pump station and each portal, whether for the Unocal system or the Route 9 system, requires 1 to 2 acres of land.
   Many important decisions regarding the facility and its conveyance system are yet to be made. The county has currently begun a formal environmental review of its entire Brightwater proposal. Part of the review includes preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This statement will analyze the environmental impacts of building and operating the Brightwater treatment system.
   The EIS process begins with a period called "scoping." Its purpose is to determine the alternatives, impacts and mitigation measures that should be evaluated in the EIS. The information gathered during the scoping period will help identify significant issues and focus the EIS analysis on those issues.
   The county urges the public to tell them what probable impacts to study. Scoping comments will be received through June 27. Comments may be made at a public meeting, such as the one held at Hollywood Schoolhouse last Thursday evening, or at one to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at the University of Washington Bothell Campus, Building UW2, 18115 Campus Way, Bothell.
   Written comments may also be submitted through the Brightwater Web site, http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wtd/brightwater or in a letter addressed to: Environmental Planning, KCS-NR-050, King County Wastewater Treatment Division, 201 S. Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104-3855. Written comments must include your name and address and be postmarked no later than June 27. The county says all comments are welcome, but detailed comments are always better.
   Roughly a dozen persons commented about the Brightwater project at last Thursday's open house/scoping meeting. Here is some of what people had to say.
   One person suggested that today's economy doesn't warrant the building of a new wastewater treatmentJoe facility. Economic conditions, she said, have changed from when the project first took off in 1999. She also suggested that other sites rejected for the Brightwater location were better than either of the two sites still under consideration. This person figured the Edmond's Unocal site contained 25 acres at best and that the site offered no opportunities to reuse water. She also said King County did not have a good track record for running sewage treatment plants.
   Another person who lives above the proposed Route 9 site and who is a member of the grange that a Route 9 plant would displace feels adamantly that the facility belongs in King County, not Snohomish County.
   One gentleman opposed the Route 9 site because of the costs its extensive conveyance system would add to the overall cost of the project. He also objected to impacts such a plant and conveyance system would have on area streams. He mentioned the fact that there are unknown fault lines in the area that could pose a threat to the plant. The unincorporated nature of the Route 9 site - what if there were an emergency, who would handle it, King County, Snohomish County, Woodinville, Maltby - was also an issue. The nature of the air shed of the Route 9 site was another concern. He felt there were more problems with the Route 9 site.
   One woman said she was in favor of a Route 9 Brightwater.
   One man wondered why in this economic climate, the county would even consider spending $300,000 more for the Route 9 plant. He can't understand why, with taxes going up, King County doesn't say, "Let's hold the line," meaning let's go with the cheaper alternative, Edmonds. The gentleman was also concerned about deep tunneling, who would be affected by it and whether the procedure would affect well water in the area.
   Another man asked if the county shouldn't go back and examine other sites it already discarded. He felt there was no backup site, should one of the two sites under consideration be eliminated. He also had concerns about traffic disruption, saying roads in his area had been under construction for a year and a half already. He also wanted to be certain people got just compensation for lands taken for the pump stations and portals. He felt the Route 9 site would have higher air quality impacts. Lastly, he said surface routing of the conveyance system was not acceptable.
   One gentleman thought the EIS should study the air shed of the Route 9 area. It should discuss the effect of the radiation used in the disinfection portion of the wastewater treatment process. It should discuss chemical use, storage and control. The EIS should examine the geology of the area. It should take into consideration the costs of a Route 9 plant and the costs to future users. He was very concerned about the effect a plant would have on area property values. He wanted planners to consider how the Urban Growth Boundary would be affected. Would there be an increased push for growth? His concern was also for traffic congestion, particularly in rush hours. He was also deeply concerned about the 228th Street conveyance option and wanted the EIS to address how such a tunnel would affect area hydrology, air quality, property values, and costs and impacts of the overall project.
   Another gentleman wanted the mitigation money to go east of Highway 9. He wanted total odor control and a maximum height predetermined for all buildings. This man preferred deep tunneling to near-surface tunneling. He wanted the landscape to include large trees, ferns, native plants. He also wanted to make sure that the times for out-trucking of biosolids would be negotiated with the neighbors.
   The last gentleman to comment felt the millions in mitigation money provided the biggest and best chance to do something to help salmon. He wanted planners to use the best and highest architectural standards, he wanted property values to hold, and he wanted, in short, a world-class facility.