Northwest NEWS

December 16, 2002

Editorial

City takes dim view of sewage plant EIS

by Jeanette Knutson
Staff Writer

 

City staff thinks the Brightwater Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is thin on substance. And that’s what City Manager Pete Rose told the Woodinville City Council at its Dec. 9 meeting.
In a staff report prepared for the council, Rose wrote, “... The project is not ready for a project DEIS from the standpoint of the limited information given. Staff was underwhelmed. There is no detail as to how the plant or other facilities will be designed or function and therefore there is no substantive environmental analysis of it.
“This is an important point because Woodinville has no legal seat at the table to comment on the plant design as a permitting agency would, even though Woodinville will have to live with the project for the next half century.”
Another shortcoming of the DEIS according to the city staff is the document’s lack of mention of impacts to the City of Woodinville.
“... An objective reader cannot look at it and determine how the quality of life will be affected in Woodinville,” Rose’s report to the council stated. “There is little mention of impacts to Woodinville. Woodinville is in the impacted area and it hasn’t been analyzed as an entity. ... Although incorporated Woodinville is a few blocks from the Route 9 site and the Route 9 site is in the Woodinville Urban Growth Area, there are no references of Woodinville plans and no indication that any Woodinville master plans were consulted in the DEIS process.”
Rose called odor control another important city concern. In his report he said, “The airshed at Route 9 is described as more difficult than at Edmonds/Unocal, but the proposal is to cover secondary clarifiers and treat the air at Edmonds and not at Route 9. There is no description that shows what the odor constituents after treatment ... will smell like, so a layman has no way of knowing the effectiveness of the promise to meet certain (standards).”
Earth, groundwater and surface water are also city concerns.
“Staff’s main focus is the impact on the surrounding area and Little Bear Creek,” said Rose to the Council.
There have been significant city investments in the creek, said Rose. We don’t want to go backwards here, he said.
The staff report shows concern about “collecting and rerouting groundwater around the site as it relates to Endangered Species Act (ESA) strategies ...” In addition, the report suggests, “Increased turbidity during construction and increased flows during construction and operation need to be quantified and reviewed against ESA strategies.”
A hazardous materials inventory has not been done for the project. That happens some time during the design phase of the sewage plant.
Rose’s report states, “A Hazardous Materials Protection Plan may be required, which would indicate whether (Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District) ... is equipped to respond.
Neither WFLSD nor its fire marshal nor the City of Woodinville has a seat at the table for permit review to respond to design proposals.
City staff also found some errors and inconsistencies in the “Noise and Vibration” section of the DEIS.
Again, according to the staff report, “It is hard to tell which is construction noise and which is operations noise. The city found some noise and time violations during construction. Operations noise is 39 decibels at Edmonds and 50 decibels at Route 9. Fifty decibels exceeds the Snohomish County standard of 43 decibels.”
As for transportation impacts, the traffic study assumes no use of any Woodinville roads. Staff thinks this is unreasonable and that truck drivers will seek the best route available for the road conditions.
“With suppliers, services and employee housing in the area, along with peak-hour tie-ups in the Grace area, the use of the 195th interchange and the Woodinville-Snohomish corridor are inevitable,” the staff report indicated.
The above-mentioned concerns are only a few the city has. First and foremost, they are disappointed by, not to mention extremely frustrated by, the lack of detail in the DEIS, calling it “deficient across the board.”
“When are they going to get specific?” asked Councilmember Chuck Price.
City SEPA official Ray Sturtz said the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) can be as detailed - or not - as (King County) feels necessary.”
The city may consider a “sufficiency challenge” after having read the FEIS. A sufficiency challenge means the city is not satisfied with the county’s identification of impacts. The challenge is made in Superior Court, where the city would have to convince a judge of the document’s inadequacy.