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Plan urges city to OK sewers

CARNATION — A new plan to build sewers and a wastewater


treatment facility in Carnation promises to keep rivers clear while allowing


for more residential and business growth.


But it's going to take time and money.


The proposal, conducted by American Engineering Corp.


of Redmond, was authorized by the city council and the local Sewer


Advisory Committee. It calls for the city to spend more than $3 million on


initial construction of a wastewater treatment facility and another $3.2 million on


the first phase of a city sewer system.


According to the proposal, the rest of the city would be phased in over


a 20-year period. The estimated total cost of those three phases is more


than $5.7 million.


In its executive summary to the proposal, the engineering firm says


the city of Carnation, which had a population of 1,725 in 1998-1999 and


grew at an annual rate of 3.8 percent from 1993 to 1999, can't continue to


develop by solely using septic systems for homes and businesses. It


further projects Carnation's population to reach 4,965 by 2020.


"The growth pressure in the area is beyond the control of the city,"


the summary states. "Other future needs such as home remodeling,


new-home construction, business expansion and buying and selling of homes


cannot occur unless adequate wastewater treatment is provided."


At the same time, the downtown area is losing tenants. Businesses


are unable to expand or rebuild because septic systems can't deal with it,


causing them to close shop.


"The need (for a sewer system) is critical," said Mayor Bob


Patterson. "Our downtown is dying, and I


don't think it could be brought back to life without a sewer."


The plan calls for grinder pumps to deliver waste to


small-diameter, low-pressure mains, which would


then transport the waste to the treatment plant. The lines and mains of the


sewer system would only be 30 to 36 inches deep _ shallow enough to limit


the amount of digging needed to install them.


"It's much easier to put in _ no big ditches, no gravity sewer,"


Patterson said.


Einar Gundersen, president of American Engineering, said the


firm was conscious of two important conditions when drawing up the


sewer proposal.


"They (city officials) want to make sure the facilities that are proposed


are cost-effective. And the city also wanted to make sure that the


facilities proposed actually improve water quality," he said.


Patterson said the city wanted to keep the price, "as low as


possible, but we need to have a complete facility." Information contained within


the proposal states residents of Carnation typically earn less than other


residents of King County.


The wastewater treatment plant would be located on a 10-acre


lot along West Entwistle Street. Sewage would go through a sludge


treatment process, and the remaining water would be disinfected and


discharged into the Snoqualmie River.


The river is home to anadromous _ including Chinook _ fish and


other species. But planners say the impact to the watershed would be minimal.


"Pollutant loading to the river will not be significant due to the


small quantity of sewage discharged and the enhanced removal capabilities of


the continuous flow-activated sludge treatment plant," the proposal


states. In turn, the plant would also prevent contaminating the city's groundwater.


"… A gradual phase-out of (septic) systems over the next 20


years will, likewise, alleviate groundwater contamination issues associated


with septic systems."


Currently there are 700 septic systems in Carnation, and most of


them were built five to 20 years ago. The typical lifespan of a septic system


is 20 years, says American Engineering.


In its proposal, American Engineering suggests the first phase of


construction would include building the wastewater treatment facility


and sewers for "the Central Business District and the area generally


located west of the King County Parks Trail."


Patterson said implementing the wastewater treatment system in


phases would help offset the financial impact of the problem. "We wanted to go


as small as we could the first time because of money."


Phase 2 consists of building sewers to homes on the east side of


the city. Phase 3 includes two urban growth areas, one in north


Carnation, the other on the southwest corner of the city. And Phase 4 would


link homes and businesses in the eastern edge and southeast parts of the city


to the sewer system.


To pay for the system, the Carnation mayor said the city would go


after grants and low-interest loans, a process he's already started. But


those connected to the sewer system will have to share some of the cost.


The costs for using the sewer system are broken down three ways.


Initially, those connected with the system would pay an assessment


based upon the square footage of the home or business. The assessment


includes two fees, one for the sewer system and another for the wastewater


treatment plant.


For example, an 8,000-square-foot home would pay an assessment


of $2,800 — $1,700 for collection and $1,100 for treatment. A


10,000-square-foot home would receive an assessment of $3,075 — $1,700


for collection and $1,375 for treatment.


Carnation businesses and homes hooked up to the system would


then pay $51 per month for each equivalent residential unit (ERU) they


use, which, says American Engineering, "… will cover the cost of


operations, maintenance, debt service, depreciation (replacement), taxes and


administration." Those who use more than one ERU a month would pay


more. Water meters would be used to collect readings.


In addition, commercial uses that discharge high-strength waste


would be charged $63.75 per ERU.


Finally, a connection charge of about $4,000 per ERU will be


levied on those who didn't pay the assessment and want to connect to the


system. The connection charge is primarily for vacant homes or other


properties and land developers who want to connect to the sewer system.


Gundersen said the reason for the higher charge is "they need to


be brought up to the same level, and then they need to pay for future expansion."


In the future, the wastewater treatment plant could be updated to


produce reusable water that could be used to irrigate fields or in car


washes. Gundersen said the upgrade could be part of Phase 1, but it would cost


an additional $400,000 to $500,000.


Once the system is in place, Carnation would have the


infrastructure to attract businesses and


multi-unit, senior and low-income housing and allow the city to grow, but at the


pace it wants, Patterson said.


"We want to keep the rural area out here in the Valley," he said.

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