Marysville pursues new wastewater treatment

  • KATHY KORENGEL and KATE REARDON / Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

By KATHY KORENGEL and KATE REARDON

Herald Writers

MARYSVILLE — The city is moving forward on a massive wastewater treatment system upgrade that may help save salmon but also possibly raise average sewer rates by up to $10 a month over a 20-year period.

The city council has voted to pursue plans for the project, which includes building a pipeline to carry treated effluent from Marysville to Everett and then into a planned outfall in Port Gardner Bay.

Marysville’s project is one piece of a growing regional solution to the puzzle of how to handle wastewater amid rising environmental standards.

Currently, Marysville’s treated effluent is discharged into Steamboat Slough. Under the proposed plan, the city’s wastewater would travel to the Everett treatment plant and then into a planned outfall, which would be a mile offshore and 350 feet deep.

The advantage of the deep-water outfall is that it takes the regional discharges that are occurring in the river and immediately offshore and mixes them up in deeper water with better currents, said Clair Olivers, Everett’s public works director.

The Marysville plan was proposed because of a Department of Ecology study that found the levels of treated effluent in the Snohomish River were harming fish habitat.

As a result of the study, the Ecology Department mandated increased levels of wastewater treatment in Marysville. It also raised standards at other treatment plants that discharge into the river, including Everett, Lake Stevens and Snohomish.

Marysville’s plan will piggyback upon a previous partnership between Everett and the Kimberly-Clark Corp. The Tulalip Tribes are considering joining as well.

Last year, Everett and Kimberly-Clark put together the first pieces of the puzzle by agreeing to build the $17 million deep-water outfall.

It would replace Everett’s outfall into the Snohomish River and Kimberly-Clark’s outfall into Port Gardner Bay.

A consulting firm has estimated that building a pipeline from Marysville’s treatment plant to Everett’s, as well as related upgrades, would cost Marysville about $40 million. Maintenance and operation costs for the Marysville project are estimated at about $29 million over a 20-year period.

The city council chose the Everett plan over two alternate plans. In one, Marysville would have continued to discharge treated effluent into Steamboat Slough at a cost of $82.2 million. In the other, a new outfall would have been built at Mission Beach on the Tulalip Indian Reservation at a cost of $73.4 million.

Winckler said the council chose the Everett alternative partly because it was the least expensive of the three plans.

Also, as Everett and Kimberly-Clark are already obtaining permits for the deep-water outfall, Marysville could spend less time in the permit process, and in turn complete its project sooner.

Both the Marysville-to-Everett pipeline and Everett-to-the-bay pipeline are projected to be completed in 2004.

Stan Jones Sr., chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, said the tribes are considering signing on to the project as a long-term solution to their wastewater treatment needs.

Jones said the tribes and the city have been discussing such a plan for years. In the meantime, the tribes had developed a $44 million plan to upgrade their existing treatment plant on Mission Beach.

"We thought, ‘Why not look at the Marysville plan and go together?’ " Jones said.

It may be a less-costly alternative.

Jones said if the tribes decide to partner up with Marysville, they would bear a portion of the $69 million price tag to transfer effluent to Everett.

A consulting firm has estimated that rates could increase an average of $20 to $30 a month over a 20-year period.

"That is a worse-case scenario," emphasized Samstag, adding that the city also will seek low-interest loans or grants as possible funding sources.

Winckler said the city intends to phase in any rate increases.

"We would do it very progressively and as painlessly as possible" for ratepayers, he said.

Winckler said the city is hiring a consultant to do a more detailed rate analysis, which could be completed in three or four months.

"Even with an increase, our rates would still be very, very low compared to other cities," Winckler added.

He added that the Department of Ecology has the city over a barrel.

"They give us a mandate, and they still don’t give us the money to fix it," Winckler said.

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