Map of Sewer Planning Area (pdf 600KB)
Timeline (pdf)
Irondale Hadlock UGA
Sewer Advisory Group
Port Hadlock Sewer Facility Plan Documents
Public Meetings
(Schedule, Meeting Summaries, & Presentations)
Overview of Sewer System Alternatives
Public Open House Comments, Questions, and Responses
Online Comment/ Join Mailing List
Contact Information
Public Meeting on Preliminary Design, Cost Estimate & Financing Strategies

The following is a summary of public comment that the project team received at the October 25, 2006 public meeting. Brief responses to each topic are presented.

Preliminary Design

How much property is needed for wastewater treatment and effluent disposal facilities?

  • The minimum footprint for the treatment facility is three acres. The assumption is that rapid infiltration would require about three acres as well. For purposes of the sewer facility plan, it was assumed that six acres would be needed for the treatment facility and six acres for the rapid infiltration facility, in case buffers are needed, solids handling facilities are built, and/or redundant facilities are needed.
There have been recent sewage spills in Poulsbo, Bremerton, and Port Angeles. The damage and cost of a sewage spill here should be considered.
  • This system would be more advanced than the systems where spills have occurred.
  • Federal and state regulatory agencies have standards and guidelines to ensure reliable wastewater treatment service. Treatment plants are required to have a back-up generator to ensure that plant operation is continuous. The treatment system for the Irondale/Port Hadlock area will be subject to additional requirements as well, since the treated effluent will be discharged to land, and thus to groundwater.
  • To build the required redundancy into the treatment system, it is necessary to construct either a storage pond to hold untreated wastewater or an additional treatment train beyond the facility's intended capacity, to be used in the event of a treatment system malfunction.
  • Whether to use storage or "n plus one" treatment trains is a design judgment. The preferred sewer system alternative includes a more conservative approach than what is required. The level of redundancy in the preferred alternative could be scaled back if necessary.
  • Pump stations are built with a duplicate pumping system and a back-up electrical system. They are also designed so that a portable pump can be used if needed.
Are there membrane bioreactor (MBR) treatment facilities in other rural areas in Washington?
  • Indian tribes have done it the most in Washington State. They have built ten MBR facilities. Alderwood Water & Wastewater District is building an MBR facility. The oldest MBR facility in Washington is about three years old.
  • MBR systems have been used in Japan for over 15 years to treat toilet water.
  • The Department of Ecology has become interested in MBR facilities and has offered encouragement for their use. MBR systems are becoming more common.
  • King County is building a 30 million gallon per day MBR facility at Brightwater. The County has done a lot of research into the best type of treatment system.
Can a septic system clean to the level of Class A effluent?
  • There are advanced septic systems that will treat individual home wastes to a similar level. However, for a UGA, a proliferation of individual septic systems is not considered an urban service.
  • Septic systems that clean to this level are very expensive.
Will biosolids be processed by a digester before they are hauled away from the wastewater treatment plant?
  • The proposed method is to collect the solids in a tank and pay for a private entity or city to process and dispose of the solids in compliance with regulations. The consultant team considered the option of building a digester at the Port Hadlock wastewater treatment facility, but found it would cost less to pay someone else to handle the solids.
  • This is also a way to delay the capital investment decision about building a solids handling facility until more ratepayers are connected.
  • It is recommended that the solids handling method be revisited after five years to reevaluate the cost comparisons when there are more customers to share costs.
Some companies buy solid waste for chemical or fertilizer use. Has revenue generation for processing biosolids been considered?
  • Revenue generation would require a huge initial investment to process the solid waste. The economy of scale does not appear to work here, although it does work elsewhere.
  • The goal was to propose something more affordable to launch the Irondale/Port Hadlock sewer system.
  • The type of system currently proposed would not preclude the community from later pursuing revenue generation or other options.
Decision-Making Process

Who decides whether sewer customers pay a connection fee or join a Utility Local Improvement District (ULID)?

  • This would be a decision for the County Commissioners. The Commissioners have the ability to put the decision to a public vote, but ultimately the Commissioners would decide.
Have Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC) been consulted?
  • The Executive Director of NOSC has been involved in the stakeholder workshops.
  • There will be an environmental assessment and probably a State Environmental Policy Act review of the preferred alternative.
  • The proposed wastewater treatment system would produce clean, Class A effluent, removing nutrients to a greater extent than septic systems do. As far as the project team is aware, WDFW would prefer a sewer system to septic systems.
Are there communities that have made people connect to sewer?
  • The proposed sewer project is still at the planning level. There are many policies still to be determined, such as who will connect and when, with many opportunities for public input.
  • Major investments have to be made in septic systems from time to time. In some communities, people wait until they need to make a major investment in their septic system and then connect to sewer instead.
  • There are communities that have required people to connect to sewer to increase the financial viability of the system.
At what point does the community get to vote on the project?
  • That has not been decided.
Is there a mechanism to rescind the UGA designation?
  • It could turn out that a sewer system is too expensive. The sewer facility plan will help provide that answer.
  • It is important to remember that the population in the area will grow, and the County's job is to manage that growth in a way that the community finds desirable.
Cost & Financing

At what point will we find out about grants and get hard financial facts to help with decision-making?

  • The County is beginning to explore the "art" of securing funding for the project. A completed sewer facility plan will make the project eligible for financial assistance, and the County will be able to apply for grants and low-interest loans. Talking to legislators about ways to support the project is also a good idea.
  • In terms of certainty, it could take from six months to two years to know how the financing will come together.
  • As with any capital project, the actual cost will not be known until the project is completed.
Is the cost of the property needed for the treatment and disposal facilities included in the cost estimate for 2010 capital costs?
  • Yes.
Who are the competitors for grants?
  • The competitors for available state and federal grants are other jurisdictions in the State of Washington.
How can a project best be positioned to get grant funding?
  • There are different qualifications for each funding program. Richard Johnson, Jefferson County's Wastewater Manager, and members of the consultant team will meet with several funding program administrators at the IACC (Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council) Conference in Wenatchee at the end of October to get advice on how best to position the Port Hadlock UGA sewer project with the funding agencies.
How can repayment of financing, other than grants, be guaranteed if not with compulsory participation in the sewer system?
  • Specific financing policies will be determined during the implementation phase, after the sewer facility plan is approved.
  • The implementation phase will proceed step-by-step, as the sewer study has, with many opportunities for public comment and questions.
Does the cost estimate assume that the sewer system will be built now? What will it cost if we take another ten years to come to agreement?
  • The cost was estimated assuming construction in 2009 and 2010. Beyond that, the cost would probably increase, since the price of land and other construction costs will probably continue to rise.
Sewer Study Assumptions

The cost estimate for an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) includes an assumption about the number of ERUs that would exist. Where did the assumption come from and was built-out assumed?

  • The Jefferson County Planning Department provided current population numbers as well as population estimates for 2024. Using that estimated rate of growth, the consultant team extrapolated the estimated population to the year 2030, which is the sewer planning horizon. There will be an estimated 3900 ERUs by 2030.
  • Build-out is projected to occur some time after 2050, although depending on land use decisions, it may never actually occur on the ground.
Did the County's population estimates, especially for commercial growth, look right?
  • Although the consultant team was not asked to do a full population analysis, they did use multiple methods to backcheck the 60:40 ratio of residential to commercial development that was used in their projections. They looked at the current zoning of the sewer planning area, checked the ratio of commercial to residential water usage, and checked the ratio of development in similar communities.
Public Meeting on Combined System Alternatives

The following is a summary of public comment that the project team received at the July 19, 2006 public meeting. Brief responses to each topic are presented.

Collection System

Whether or not it makes sense to pay a higher initial investment for gravity collection

  • Gravity collection systems can last up to 50 years. Pressure sewer systems have a shorter service life because key components (septic tanks and pumps) have to be replaced after about 20 years. This analysis looks at a 20-year time span for comparison purposes, because of the 20-year planning period required by the Growth Management Act and because pressure sewers have a shorter service life. Pressure sewers are often thought of as an inexpensive "starter kit" for a sewer system with planned replacement after 20 years with a gravity sewer when the area is more densely populated and there are more people to pay. Although this approach is more expensive in the long run, it may be the only way a community can afford to get started. Pressure systems will work, but people must be aware that it's a "pay-as-you-go" system and it is less convenient because of ongoing maintenance.
  • After 20 years, the total estimated system cost for gravity is lower than the total estimated system cost for a pressure system.

Separating gray water from the wastewater stream

  • A separate gray water system would likely have greater costs because of the need for two separate systems on each property - gray water and "black" (toilet) water systems.
  • Plumbing retrofits would be required within existing homes in order to separate gray water from black water.
  • Separating gray water at the home would reduce the total amount of water conveyed within the wastewater collection system. Less water in the sewer system would impact pipeline design parameters. For example, most gravity collection systems are designed for a certain amount of water to wash solids down the pipes. Removing gray water might generate a need to build steeper gravity collection pipes in order to keep solids moving, which would need to be constructed deeper and thus cost more. Also, more frequent line flushing may be required in order to dislodge solids deposited in pipelines.
  • Sending gray water to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment could help prevent gray water from possibly degrading groundwater supplies.
  • A septic tank and drainfield would need to be maintained for gray water separation. A second tank and pump would be needed if a pressurized sewer system were installed.
  • The design team acknowledges the Port Hadlock community's mandate to pursue reuse options for the communities treated wastewater. Although gray water separation can be a viable reuse option, it is viewed by the design team as less effective, more costly and less reliable than the proposed land-based disposal/reuse option using a rapid rate infiltration system.
Treatment Alternatives

How costs compare between the membrane bioreactor (MBR) and the sequencing batch reactor & filter (SBR)

  • The total cost for MBR over 20 years could be up to 20% more than the total cost for SBR. Since the 20 year costs associated with a MBR system account for approximately 37% of the total costs of the sewer system, this would result in an overall cost increase of around 7%.

How odor management compares among the treatment alternatives

  • Although the project team has used the Port Townsend wastewater treatment facility as a reference for appropriate odor control and aesthetics, the City of Port Townsend uses an oxidation ditch treatment technology and the proposed treatment technology for Port Hadlock is an MBR. Some comments from the public have indicated that a higher level of odor control may be necessary. The County is budgeting for a wastewater treatment facility that is a good neighbor.
  • There is some difference in the effort necessary to provide odor control among the three treatment technologies. Since SBR and MBR have smaller areas of exposed water surface than oxidation ditches, it is less expensive to cover them and control odor for them. MBR or SBR treatment systems would provide a better level of odor control as compared to the oxidation ditch system at the Port Townsend facility.

Building a storage pond vs. an additional treatment train

  • There are Ecology requirement for providing redundancy so that the treatment process has a certain level of reliability. There are two options for including redundancy: one is to build a single treatment train and a storage pond, and the other is to build two treatment trains. The assumption in our phasing plans is that two treatment trains will be built initially, storage will be built at the first expansion, and two more treatment trains will be built at the second expansion
Effluent Disposal/Reuse Alternatives

Health impacts of effluent disposal

  • We are planning to treat wastewater to Class A effluent levels, which is safe for reuse. It is the best quality of effluent. For Class A treatment, solids and dissolved organics are removed, and the effluent it denitrified to a level of 1 part per million and disinfected. Drinking water is allowed to have up to 10 parts per million of nitrogen.

Possibility of water reuse

  • The wastewater will be treated to reuse standards allowing the Port Hadlock sewer facility to explore future reuse opportunities. For example, treated effluent may be used to irrigate ballfields.
Solids Handling Alternatives

Whether to dewater biosolids before they are hauled away

  • The biosolids would be partially stabilized before they are shipped away, but they would not be dewatered or disinfected at that point. We have found that there would be a tremendous initial capital investment required to do additional dewatering and stabilization. The design team has made a strategic call that it makes financial sense to contract out the hauling and reuse of the facility's biosolids. This would allow the County flexibility to continue with a contractor in the future if it remains financially viable or to later invest in solids handling equipment when more users are connected to the wastewater system.

Health impacts of biosolids disposal

  • One identified contractor, Kitsap Biorecycle, mixes the biosolids with lime to produce an "artificial soil." This soil is then applied to fields and immediately plowed under to minimize the potential for odors and pests.
Facility Siting

Potential locations of treatment and disposal/reuse facilities

  • The project team will take into consideration public concern about using the "Central Site" for wastewater treatment and/or disposal/reuse. There has been interest expressed in keeping that property, which is near the commercial core of Port Hadlock, available for development.
  • The location of the treatment and/or effluent disposal/reuse facilities will influence the total cost of the sewer system. Cost considerations will also be taken into account.

Effluent disposal/reuse being used to recharge Chimacum Creek

  • The project team will look carefully at the hydrology of the area to determine, among other things, whether effluent disposal/reuse would provide recharge to Chimacum Creek

Proximity of potential disposal/reuse sites to wells

  • and whether effluent disposal/reuse would impact any wells, such as Kivley Well or other private wells. Also, there are regulations and required setbacks to protect wells.
Cost & Financing

The schedule for developing cost estimates and financing options.
What the sewer system might cost?
How financing might work?

  • Jefferson County has emphasized that constructing a sewer system in the Irondale/Port Hadlock area must be affordable for the community. As part of the sewer study, preliminary 20-year life cycle cost estimates have been prepared as a way to compare sewer system alternatives. Once the County has identified a preferred sewer system alternative, the consultant team will use the preferred alternative to develop a detailed cost estimate as well as financing options. A preferred sewer system alternative will be selected after the Board of County Commissioners workshop on August 8. The status of the cost estimate and financing options will be presented at a public workshop on preliminary design, cost, and financing options and at a public meeting in October.

The length of time available for financing the sewer system

  • The Growth Management Act requires a plan to implement the sewer system with a near term (6-year) and long term (20 year) plan.

What is included in the 20-year life cycle cost estimates

  • The 20-year life cycle cost estimates for the sewer system include capital cost for sewers, on-site costs for connection to the sewers, wastewater treatment (including treatment plant, disinfection, effluent disposal, and solids handling), and the present value costs for operations and maintenance of all facilities over 20 years.

How costs would be divided among sewer customers

  • Although the cost of the sewer system per user decreases the more users there are, the idea is to work out a financing plan whereby all users end up paying the lower cost that would be attained with all forecasted customers hooked up at the end of the 20-year planning period.
Sewer Planning Process

Whether the sewer planning boundary can be changed

  • Making any changes to the 20-year sewer planning boundary would be a policy decision for the community and the County. From a technical standpoint, it is possible to alter the area that would be served by the sewer system.
  • The 6-year planning boundary is useful for planning purposes, but the actual order in which properties connect to the sewer will be determined during implementation.

Whether the sewer planning boundary will become the urban growth area boundary

  • It is presumed that the sewer planning boundary will coincide with the urban growth area boundary. This is because urban services must be provided within an urban growth boundary and sanitary sewers are considered a key urban service.

How long a sewer system is anticipated to last

  • Although individual components of the sewer system may have a longer or shorter lifetime, the entire sewer system is assumed to have a 20-year life for this comparison.

Whether everyone will have to connect to the sewer

  • The Sewer Facility Plan must demonstrate that it will be possible for everyone to connect to the sewer system by the end of the 20-year planning period. However, the way in which customers would be required to connect to the sewer system will be a policy decision for the community and the County.