Under the Growth Management Act (GMA), there must be a 20-year sewer service plan for the Urban Growth Area (UGA). The Sewer Facility Plan adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in 2009 included a phased plan for providing sewer in the UGA starting with the commercial core along SR-116 and Rhody Drive and expanding into residential areas over time. The phasing map from the Plan is available here. More recently updated financial plans included a refined first phase Local Improvement District (LID) covering the Core/Rhody area in a single first phase as shown on this map.
WHAT KIND OF SEWER IS IT?
A sewer system consists of side sewer lines (pipe from a home or business to the street), a collection system (pipes under or along the streets), pump stations, a treatment facility, and a wastewater reuse or disposal facility. A schematic of the treatment facility can be found on the "Documents" page under "Design Plans and Specifications." Plans and specifications for the wastewater treatment plant can be found here. The treatment facility uses state of the art Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology to treat to Class A wastewater standards suitable for release into the ground. The treatment plant can be scaled up as more sewer hookups occur to keep the costs more reasonable. Treated wastewater will be released into sandy gravelly glacial soils and infiltrate into the aquifer under Chimacum Creek. This will supplement low summer flows improving conditions for salmon and other fish.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF THIS PROJECT?
A sewer system in the Irondale & Port Hadlock UGA will have several benefits. It will support commercial growth, economic development, as well as affordable housing by allowing denser zoning and multifamily units. In addition, a sewer system will help protect water quality. Lastly, by concentrating growth in the UGA, Jefferson County is helping to reduce sprawl and protect the natural environment as mandated by the Growth Management Act (GMA).
WHAT DOES IT COST?
The current cost estimate for providing sewer to the Core and Rhody areas including side sewers is approximately $45 million. See the attached breakdown for more information.
WHAT WILL IT COST ME?
The answer to that question depends on a number of variables including:
How much grant funding is obtained to offset user costs;
What kind of property is being served (generally an expression of water usage and strength of effluent); and
What kind of benefit is derived (for the portion funded by Local Improvement District assessments), which depends upon the zoning allowed after sewer is installed among other factors.
Cost estimates are usually expressed in terms of Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) which represents the average single family residence. A thorough discussion of this topic can be found in Chapter 9 of the Sewer Facility Plan and the 2015 Updated Financial Plan memorandum. In the case of the Irondale-Port Hadlock Sewer, an ERU would be calculated as 2.2 people per residence each using 60 gallons of water per day (132 gallons per day per ERU) or 4,000 gallons per month. Commercial properties would be charged based on multiple ERUs per property since they use significantly more water than a single family residence and may have higher “strength” (more concentrated) effluent.
Currently, if the sewer project receives no grant assistance, it is estimated that a single ERU sewer hookup would cost approximately $17,000 plus the “on-site” costs averaging $3,000 for a simple gravity residential connection. On-site costs are the costs to run a side sewer line from a house or business to the street. Costs would be lower with federal and/or state grant assistance. This cost would likely be assessed through a sewer connection charge and a Local Improvement District (LID) assessment. When the final LID assessments are determined, property owners will have the choice to pay in full without interest, or to pay annually over 15-20 years.
WHEN WILL I BE REQUIRED TO HOOK UP TO THE SEWER?
Property owners are required to connect to sewer (and abandon existing septic systems) once the sewer collection line is installed in the street in front of their property.
HOW MUCH WILL I PAY FOR MY MONTHLY SEWER BILL?
As with all sewers, a monthly bill will be required to fund the ongoing operation and maintenance of the sewer system. Operations and maintenance includes things like electricity charges, sludge disposal, chemicals, and operations staff. Current estimates are that the monthly sewer bill would be approximately $87.00 per month per ERU. Commercial properties counted as multiple ERUs would pay more based on their ERU calculation.