Water plant draws protest

MARYSVILLE — Karl and Daphne Blom chose to live in Smokey Point because it was a good place to raise kids.

But now they’re unhappy because the back of their house soon will look out on a $4 million water filtration plant the city plans to build.

"The folks around here don’t like it at all because it’s going to screw up our property values," Karl Blom said, adding the plant should be closer to the river and not near homes.

The plant’s filters will remove pollutants, and the water will be treated and piped to about 6,500 Marysville- and Arlington-area residents. But it also will cover about 6,600 square feet and stand 37 feet high.

"I don’t think they should put a building as large as that in a neighborhood so close to homes, making noise 24-7," Blom said. "They originally said they weren’t going to be putting in anything bigger than the houses in the neighborhood."

City staff met with residents in the area of 43rd Street NE, near the Arlington Airport, where the treatment plant will be built. They hoped to alleviate residents’ concerns about the plant’s size, how much noise it will generate, potential odor and the number of trees that will be cut down.

The city is trying to address residents’ concerns, city engineer Kevin Nielsen said.

City officials say the plant won’t generate a lot of noise or odor. And the city will remove 73 trees and leave 41, but will replant three for each one removed.

"We want to be a good neighbor," he said. "It’s a good project for everybody."

Toward that end, the city is considering moving the plant to the northernmost part of the property to please property owners and reduce their concerns, Nielsen said.

Blom said moving the plant on the site to reduce the visual and noise impact would make residents happier. City officials also told residents they’d consider using additional sound-proofing materials.

Funding comes from a state loan for water projects. The city recovers the money through fees paid by developers and water users. The project will involve building a new waterline from the city’s well near the Stillaguamish River north of Highway 530, connecting with Arlington’s pipe near Dwayne Lane’s property south of the highway, and then continue to the new treatment plant near the airport north of 172nd Street NE.

In 2000, the state Department of Ecology signed an agreement with the city to build a facility to treat Stillaguamish River water, a project that was to be completed in 18 months. City officials wanted to build it close to the river, but had trouble finding property, said Mary Swenson, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The city searched for property for nearly a year, but finding land that didn’t have significant environmental restrictions that made the project too cost prohibitive was difficult, Swenson said. The project deadline now is summer 2005.

The city purchased 1.3 acres near the airport, land that met all the codes, Swenson said.

The treatment plant is about five miles from the river. The pipeline will be laid in public right of way, connecting to Arlington’s water system, Nielsen said. Current water lines will remain and will be used for untreated water.

Marysville water comes from three sources: the Stillaguamish River, Edward Springs northwest of Marysville and some from Everett, which gets its water from Spada Lake north of Gold Bar.

Marysville has a water right of 3.2 million gallons per day from the Stillaguamish River. During times when the river is too silty, the city must use Edward Springs instead. That water is filtered and chlorinated.

Filters that will clean the water from the Stillaguamish River for human consumption are about 8 feet tall and require a crane to lift them in and out of place and dip them into a cleaning solution, Nielsen said.

The project will provide clean water when the river is silty and provides a backup for Edward Springs. The two sources are kept isolated in case one becomes contaminated.

This is the first treatment plant in the state using those particular filters, although there are other membrane-filter plants, such as one built last year by the Tulalip Tribes.

Reporter Cathy Logg: 425-339-3437 or logg@heraldnet.com.

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