Residents concerned with sewer cost, need
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:39 PM
CARNATION _ In the end, a recent public forum to discuss a
proposed sewer collection system and wastewater treatment plant for the
city boiled down to two things: money and need.
How to pay for it and whether it was necessary were two main
concerns for Carnation residents at the forum, which was held July 20 at
the Sno-Valley Senior Center.
On hand to answer those questions were representatives of American
Engineering Corp., Redmond, which was hired by the city to draw up the
According to American Engineering, it would cost $6.2 million to
build the plant and Phase 1 of the sewer system, and another $5.7 million for
the remaining three phases of the system, which would be added over a
The collection system would be comprised of small-diameter
mains and grinder pumps that would move waste away from a home or
business to the wastewater treatment plant, tentatively proposed to be built on a
10-acre site along West Entwistle Street. The waste would be turned
into sludge, and the water would be disinfected and discharged into
the Snoqualmie River.
Jim Morgan of American Engineering, who conducted the
financial analysis of the proposed plan, said funding the project would come
from low-interest loans, grants and fees assessed to residents.
Those fees are based on the city matching 25 percent of any grants
or loans it receives to construct the plant and the sewer system. He said with
a 25 percent match, the city could receive a 0.5 percent low-interest loan.
In explaining the proposed treatment plant and sewer system,
Einar Gundersen, president of American Engineering, said he was surprised
at how low the price tag was.
"It is, to me, very exciting anyway that the cost is lower than what I
expected," he said of estimates for the proposed project.
But some residents didn't share his optimism. They questioned fees
they would be expected to pay to connect to the sewer system.
In determining the financial impact of the plan, American
Engineering said an initial assessment would be charged users to connect to
the sewer system. Part of the assessment would go toward the wastewater
treatment plant, while part would go for the collection system. For example,
an 8,000-square-foot home would, an executive summary to the
proposal states, pay an assessment of $2,800
$1,700 for collection and $1,100 for treatment.
Some Carnation residents said for many, assessing homeowners
for Phase 1 of the plan, which would build sewers for the downtown business
district and surrounding area, would be a financial burden. They said
homes tend to be older in the downtown area, and residents there don't make
as much money as those who reside in outlying areas of town.
"You're excluding the wealthy part of town," said Jim Bradley,
Carnation, adding he thought all the phases should be completed at once.
Gundersen said the reason for phasing in additions to the sewer
system is to limit the financial impact the project would have on the city,
saying the plan is to "bring cost-effective
sewers to the part of town that needs it the most."
"We know (the septic systems in the downtown area are) probably
not functioning like systems should today."
In addition, homeowners and businesses would be charged a
monthly, flat fee of $51 to use the system. Owners of vacant buildings and
developers would be charged a connection fee of $4,000 if they chose to connect at
a later date.
Contrary to concerns about connecting to the sewer system,
Cheryl Kenyon, whose NAPA Auto Parts Store in Carnation burned down
last year, said it would cost more in the long run if a sewer system isn't
She said if a resident's home was lost in a fire, "You're not going to
get the permits to rebuild that home," because of new ordinances and
regulations that govern septic systems.
She added that in her and her husband's attempts to build a
new store, "We're having a hard time. We've gone through a lot of struggles."
Another Carnation resident, Michael Plant, suggested the need
for a wastewater treatment plant and sewer system hasn't been justified,
as were fears of septic tanks polluting the groundwater.
"Extensive tests were done on looking for pollution from our
septic systems. Not only was none found, we are now utilizing one of the test
wells for our water, and this water is untreated since it is so clean," he said.
Plant told Mayor Bob Patterson and members of the Sewer
Advisory Committee that if the city was worried about groundwater pollution,
it should create a maintenance district to "monitor and maintain the
existing systems," adding, "This would
really be helping the citizens and not causing a hardship."
The Carnation City Council will hold a hearing on the proposed
project at its meeting Aug. 1. After the hearing, the Sewer Advisory
Committee will make a recommendation to the council Aug. 8, which will make a
final decision Aug. 15.