The Lake Stevens Sewer District’s new Sunnyside Waste Water Treatment Plant is ready to remove the crane that has been visible off of Highway 204 for the past year.
At almost 60 percent completion, the treatment plant will now be focusing on ground level work.
“The plant is expected to be done next fall and start-up in the spring of 2012,” Rick Lewellen, Deputy Manager of Operations said. “We will then have super clean water going into the slough.”
The primary reason for the new plant is water quality and with the old plant directly inside of the flood plain, it made more sense to build a new plant.
The Sewer District explained its goals in a statement:
“The primary and ongoing driver for the project is water quality in Ebey Slough, the Snohomish River and Puget Sound. The EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology have placed limits on the amount of nutrients that wastewater treatment plants will be allowed to discharge,” the statement said.
“The District has chosen a technology that will ensure future regulatory compliance while allowing the continued economic development of the community in the years to come. Like King County’s Brightwater Plant under construction in South Snohomish County, the Lake Stevens Plant uses Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology to provide a level of treatment that exceeds national and state requirements and could allow for the use of treated water for irrigation or industrial uses in the future,” it continues.
The district will replace the existing sludge and lagoon system, which is periodically inaccessible during flooding.
Lake Stevens Sewer District has been planning for the replacement or restructuring of the old plant for over ten years, putting money away from developers and small rate increases and by establishing low interest loans.
The cost of the new plant is $120 million. $80 million will come through low cost loans from State and Federal sources and the additional $40 million will be obtained through bond sales and additional low-interest loans.
“Leveraging cash reserves built up during the past 12 years has allowed the District to control up front rate impacts for existing customers,” the district’s statement said. “Ongoing debt will be retired through more incremental rate and connection fee adjustments based on continuing conservative revenue projections. Sewer rates, currently a flat fee of $60 per month, are scheduled to annually increase $5 per month over the next four years reaching $80 per month in 2014.”
In comparison, the City of Snohomish just announced rates of approximately $130 per month by the year 2016. They currently pay $150 every two months.
“It was more cost effective to build a new facility at another site rather than throwing good money after bad,” Lewellen explained.
Ashley Emory, financial consultant with Peninsula Finance Services has worked with the district for over a decade and is impressed with the preparation that has gone on.
“I’ve never had a client start planning so early,” Emory said. “Staff understands that times are tough right now and we need to do what we can to keep costs down.”
The proposed rates will remain comparable with other communities currently increasing treatment levels and/or capacity. Future monthly rates are anticipated to stabilize at a lower level than other western Washington communities facing similar water quality challenges.
“If I had to bet, Lake Stevens will probably have the lowest rates around,” Emory said.
The plan is to keep rates as low as possible while maintaining a state-of-the-art facility that will be in compliance for decades to come.
“This plant will ensure the continued economic vitality of the Lake Stevens community by providing state-of-the-art sewage treatment to the Lake Stevens community for the next 50 years,” Darwin Smith, Lake Stevens Sewer District General Manager said.