Council goes forward with sewer project

CARNATION — The city of Carnation is one step closer to building

a sewer collection system and waste-water treatment plant after City

Council members voiced their unanimous approval to create a final draft of

the project's plan. The council is expected to vote on the final draft at its Sept.

19 meeting.

For the past year the city has worked on preparing a proposal

that would bring sewers to residents and businesses. This summer, an

engineering firm hired by the city, American Engineering Corp. of Redmond,

submitted a plan that called for the collection system and treatment plant

to be built in phases. The initial phase of construction would cost $6.2

million, and subsequent phases could cost an additional $10.45 million over

20 years.

Many people have repeatedly stated the need for such a system,

but some residents who have attended public workshops, forums and

hearings have been equally opposed to the proposed project.

City Councilman Stuart Lisk said the potential for current septic

systems failing far outweighs the cost of the project.

"For me, there are too many at-risk issues, and as a representative of

the city, I bear part of that burden," he said.

"There are too many people at risk with the age of the septic systems

and the size of the lots."

Councilwoman Yvonne Funder- burg agreed that with the

possibility of septic systems failing in the

future, a final draft of the project should be drawn up.

"For the benefit of the town, we need to go forward with it," she

said. "… Hopefully we can go forward and find something that everybody can

be happy with."

Laurie Clinton, a member of the Sewer Advisory Committee, said in

an interview that now is the time to build a sewer system.

"This is no longer a whim … This is a dire necessity," she said.

However, resident G. Miller-St. Germain, said the city is using

those potential problems as a pretext to grow the city.

"This is all about growth. This isn't about health," she said.

But Clinton said concerns about growth could be addressed by the city.

"It can be controlled, and that is up to the citizens," she said. "We

have a say in what happens. We have a good comprehensive plan.

"We can assure them we are not going to be a Duvall."

In an interview, former Mayor Dave Hunter, who also spoke at

the City Council meeting, said the city could face worse problems if a

sewer system isn't installed in the near future.

"If we don't take responsibility and do something, then we're

going to have a problem, (and) then the county, state and feds are going

to come in and do it for us," he said. And as for growth, Hunter said the

Growth Management Area for Duvall was much larger.

"(Growth is) pretty well maxed out going up the Tolt River."

Many of those attending the City Council meeting weren't happy

with the council's vote. Some said that residents don't have enough money to

pay for being connected to a sewer system, as well as paying the monthly

fee — estimated at $51 — to use the system.

Tom Cortade, who collected 26 signatures on a petition that asked

the City Council to let residents vote on the issue, told council members,

"Your decision will have a dramatic effect on this town for years to come."

Because of the phased-in approach of the plan, the downtown

business district and surrounding area would be the first to be connected to the

sewer system. But several people have said the city's poorest residents live in

that area, and they would be the most affected by a decision to build sewers.

Hunter said by building a sewer system now, the city could apply

for money to help those people. State and federal funds that could be used

to offset what residents would have to pay to be connected to the sewer

system are based on data collected in the 1990 census, he said. He added that

if the city waits until next year, after the 2000 census is adopted, the city

might not qualify for low-income funding.

"Carnation, based on the 1990 census, had a per-capita income

of $33,000 per household," Hunter said. "That puts you in a

qualification bracket for such things as sewers."

Clinton said the Sewer Advisory Committee believes the city could

receive additional funding to pay for a sewer system.

"We think there's great promise for additional grants above and

beyond those that we would be eligible for.

"So many cities have been sewered, there's so much money


Throughout this process, several residents have asked the city to put

the issue to a vote. Michael Finley of Carnation said of the people he's

talked to, they all want a sewer collection system and wastewater treatment

plant placed on a ballot.

"I haven't talked to one person that doesn't want a vote," he said.

Finley added that he wants to vote, too, saying, "That's just as important to me

as to whether or not we get it."

The City Council has not decided whether to let residents vote.

However, at the meeting, councilmembers were given a list of recommendations by

the Sewer Advisory Committee, one of which stated: "The decision to put

a sewer facility to a vote of the people rests with the council. It falls

upon them to determine what is in the best interest for the long-term benefit of

the people."

Other recommendations made by the committee include:

• Exploring the feasibility adding reuse operations to the

wastewater treatment plant.

• Including the Regal Glen subdivision in Phase 1 of sewer


• Continue pursuing grants and other funding for the project,

especially for low-income households and seniors, as well as seeking

funding through the federal Endangered Species Act or the Clean Water Act.

• Conducting further study to see if the monthly sewer fee can be


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