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City looks to avoid sewage mess repeat

As they wait to find out how much the damage from last month's sewer pipe eruption will cost, North Bend city officials are working to prevent a similar disaster from happening again.

Youth groups and a church congregation that usually meet at the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activity Center (YAC) were displaced when the building was deluged by raw sewage on Saturday, March 21. A pipe at the nearby waste water treatment plant clogged by rags, textiles, grit and plastics burst, submerging the unoccupied building in six inches of human waste.

To avoid a repeat, the city of North Bend is installing screening to keep untreatable debris from entering pipes, as well as an alarm system for flows in the plant's oxidation ditch, North Bend City Administrator Duncan Wilson said.

Construction of new headworks for the treatment plant is in the city's 2009-2010 capital improvement plan. Temporary fencing now lines the community-owned YAC; the many groups that use it have found temporary meeting sites.

Located at 356 Bendigo Blvd. N., the YAC was built in the 1950s by Valley residents, and is run by a volunteer board. Because the YAC's main source of income is cheap rentals by people using it for parties and functions, YAC board members expressed concern about how it will pay for ongoing expenses like property taxes, water and sewer while the building is out of commission. Wilson said the city is working with YAC leaders to address those issues while insurance claims are processed.

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