Marysville debates sewer expansion

By Theresa Goffredo

Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — Some Marysville City Council members consider it just a utility. Others see it as a way to potentially pay for growth.

And though the council may be divided on whether to expand its sewage disposal partnership with the Tulalip Tribes, all would probably agree that Monday’s vote will have far-reaching effects on the city’s future residents.

"It’s a major decision in many ways, not only for the city itself but as far as working with the tribes," Marysville city planner Gloria Hirashima said.

The council is poised to vote during a public meeting Monday whether to enter into an agreement with the Tulalips to dispose of 750,000 gallons of sewage per day from the Tulalip reservation by April 2002. The city already allows the Tulalips to empty 50,000 gallons of sewage a day into the Marysville wastewater treatment plant.

Most of that additional waste will come from the Tulalips’ new business park off the 88th Street NE exit from I-5. The Tulalips are also requesting that the city dispose of up to 3.5 million gallons a day over the next 20 years.

To dispose of that additional sewage, the city would have to upgrade its wastewater plant — a plan the city is currently working on anyway.

The city also has been working with Everett on a plan to build a 10,700-foot onshore pipeline and marine outfall from the Kimberly-Clark plant in Everett to the deep waters of Port Gardner Bay. The pipe could eventually collect treated waste from several areas, including Everett, Marysville and the Tulalip reservation, and send it 350 feet underwater.

That regional pipeline would cost about $40 million and about $2 million a year to operate and maintain. If the city and Tulalips agree to jointly build such a system, the tribes would pay about 15 percent of the construction costs — or $600,000 — in addition to monthly fees and costs to maintain the system.

Some council members, however, believe the Tulalips should be charged additional fees. Those fees would help pay for the increase in traffic and more students in schools, two inevitable results of growth that council members believe will occur if more sewer service is provided to the reservation.

The discussion about the city-tribal partnership and the pipeline project has gone beyond the city council, with planning commissioners approaching the topic at their April 24 meeting. At that meeting, commissioners expressed concerns about giving the Tulalips the opportunity to expand their business park by providing sewer service without any mechanism to compensate Marysville for the growth.

But with the Tulalips’ contribution in helping to build the sewer pipeline, the cost to the ratepayer would be defrayed. That contribution will only happen if the council enters into an agreement to dispose of more of the Tulalips’ sewage.

And at least one council member, Shirley Bartholomew, believes partnering with the Tulalips to build a regional wastewater system is the sensible way to go.

"It’s the most economic alternative, and what we owe our ratepayers," Bartholomew has said.

You can call Herald Writer Theresa Goffredo at 425-339-3097

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