November 18, 2002
King County proposes 'gray water' plant along Sammamish trail
by Jeanette Knutson
King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks is seeking public comment on an environmental review of the proposed Sammamish Valley Reclaimed Water Facility north of Redmond. The comment period ends Friday, Nov. 22.
The department is planning to build a 30,000 square foot plant on the western border of Sixty Acres South Park, south of Northeast 116th Street, along the Sammamish River Trail.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2003, with 1.5 million gallons a day of reclaimed water being produced by the summer of 2004.
"The project," according to Jo Sullivan, public involvement coordinator for King County, "will be funded by wastewater utility rates."
The land on which the facility will be built is owned by King County Parks.
Carolyn Duncan, a spokesperson King County, said, "When you read all the news about drought conditions throughout the country, you realize it is important to develop new sources for water and to reclaim water. This facility will provide the area with a drought-proof source of water. It will allow us to keep the water we have in the ground and to keep our rivers from depleting (unnecessarily). It will save drinking water for drinking, thereby stretching our water resources.
"We are working with the community and neighbors to design something pleasing for everyone," said Duncan.
Planners say the facility will be designed to look like a barn to fit into the rural landscape of the valley.
Said Sullivan, "We will be building on the western edge of the parcel. It will be landscaped all around. There will be a 200-foot buffer from the river that will be landscaped with native plants. An orchard is being considered, as it will look attractive from homes on the hill as well as for park users.
"(King County) is also meeting with the users of the park and will be adding a restroom and parking area (for their benefit)."
According to a King County fact sheet about the project, reclaimed water will come from "wastewater from homes and businesses from the Sammamish Plateau and Redmond."
This water is collected in an underground pipe that runs along the Sammamish River Trail. A small quantity will be removed from the line and treated to a high level to meet reclaimed water standards and used for irrigation on properties nearby.
King County says they have several customers that have expressed an interest in all the water they can produce.
According to Sullivan, "Contracts are being prepared with Willows Run Golf Course."
Meanwhile, Woodinville, Grace and Maltby intelligentsia who have had noses buried in 1,000-page copies of the Brightwater Draft Environmental Impact Statement of late were taken off guard by news of a second smaller facility planned for south of the city.
These folks' mission is to ward off a 36-million-gallon-a-day sewage plant proposed for a site just north of Woodinville.
Some of them have strong feelings about the reclaimed water facility, as well.
Tom Fox, county water reuse coordinator, said in June 2001 that the siting of the reclaimed water plant in the Sammamish Valley was in no way tied to the siting of the Brightwater wastewater treatment facility.
Jo Sullivan concurred.
"... They are independent. The facility's purpose is to produce high quality reclaimed water, not to function as an auxiliary wastewater treatment plant," she said.
Some opponents of the Route 9 sewer plant are skeptical.
Potential neighbor of the Route 9 sewage treatment plant Corinne Hensley thought it was rather silly to find out that pump stations can be used for processing wastewater for other re-uses, when all along King County was telling the public an advantage of a Route 9 sewer plant was its ability to serve area businesses with reclaimed water.
Route 9 opponent Bill Stankus said, "This (reuse plan) just sort of popped up on the landscape. It seems to have been moving forward quietly. ... Somehow this is worse than Brightwater because it's starting next summer.
"I don't know, maybe we need a Tim Eyman approach to attack King County on all fronts at once," Stankus said.
Linda Gray of Sno-King Environmental Alliance didn't think the reuse facility would happen so quickly.
"But it doesn't surprise me," said Gray.
She wonders if money earned in selling reclaimed water will somehow be used to justify or discount the huge cost of a Route 9 Brightwater.
Copies of the environmental checklist for the reused water facility can be obtained at http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wtd/reuse/sammamish.htm.
The Redmond library also has a copy of the report.
Comments on the document - due Nov. 22 - should be sent to Shirley Marroquin, Environmental Planning and Community Relations Unit, KSC-NR-050, 201 South Jackson Street, WA 98104-3855.
For information about the project's environmental analysis, contact Steve Tolzman, (206) 263-6185, or firstname.lastname@example.org.