Residents concerned with sewer cost, need

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

20-year period.

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.

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