Last year the Eastsound Sewer & Water District commissioned an engineering report to evaluate the existing wastewater treatment plant in Eastsound and provide a recommendation for what would be needed to meet the needs of the Eastsound community into the future. That report identified the need to increase the treatment capacity for two major reasons.
- Both existing treatment plant cells are in need of being taken off-line for repairs, maintenance, and refurbishing. Treatment cell #1 is over 40 years old and was recoated 22 years ago. Treatment cell #2 is over 22 years old and has never been taken offline for repairs and maintenance. The current wastewater flows to the plant are at a level that requires both treatment cells to handle those flows.
- In the preceding two summer seasons, Eastsound has seen flows and loading at the treatment plant that are getting close to the design capacity. The District has seen a record number of new connections to the sewer system in recent years and currently has approximately 80 equivalent residential units (ERU’s) reserved for connection within the next year. We know that flows to the treatment plant will continue to increase. The Department of Ecology mandates that when a wastewater treatment plant reaches 80% of its design capacity for three consecutive months, then planning for treatment plant expansion must begin.
The Board of Commissioners recognize the need to start the planning process for treatment plant expansion, named the WasteWater Treatment Plant Expansion Project.
Eastsound Sewer & Water District currently has $1,400,000 in the Capital Reserve Fund, a healthy $300,000 in the Eastsound General Fund (Maintenance & Operation) and has no debt. Estimates for the treatment plant expansion project are between $3.5 million and $4.0 million to engineer and construct. With that in mind, the District has submitted an application for funding to the Washington State Department of Ecology’s combined Water Quality Assistance program. The funding request also includes refurbishing the existing treatment plant cells. Funding will be in the way of low-interest loans, but, if the District qualifies, it is may obtain hardship status for grants.
The Board of Commissioners recognize the need to establish sufficient revenues for loan repayment which will include the need to increase monthly sewer service rates, using a stepped-up method over the course of the next year. It is important to note that unlike other local utilities, the District has not implemented an increase in monthly sewer service rates since January 1, 2009. The final monthly rate will be established based on the level and type of funding obtained from the State of Washington and the amounts of loans needed for the project.
The Board of Commissioners welcomes your questions and comments. The District plans to hold town hall meetings and use other media by which to assure community input and engagement. Please contact the District if you would like more information.