Sewer rates for decades to be affected
The town councils of Coulee Dam and Elmer City will meet jointly, along with their attorneys, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Coulee Dam chambers.
The agenda will cover a 50-year joint agreement between the two municipalities for wastewater treatment services. Coulee Dam, by contract, receives Elmer City’s wastewater (sewage) for treatment.
Elmer City has been at odds with Coulee Dam for the way it developed its plan for an upgraded wastewater treatment plant, claiming that it wasn’t consulted.
Coulee Dam on at least two occasions had invited Elmer City to one of its meetings where the proposed plant was being discussed. On one of those occassions, Elmer City’s town clerk showed up; the other time, no one showed.
Elmer City has maintained that it is a partner in the Coulee Dam plant and thus should have been in on the planning. It maintains that Coulee Dam has treated it like a customer instead of a partner.
That’s the reason the two towns have asked their respective attorneys to be present.
Elmer City has also contested the extent of the upgrades planned for the wastewater plant, claiming its citizens cannot pay for it because most are on a fixed incomes.
Elmer City sends about one-third of sewage and wastewater that is processed by the plant.
Through its protests, Elmer City has opened up the possibilities that Indian Health Services and the Bureau of Reclamation may be able to become financial partners in the new plant.
Meanwhile, Coulee Dam’s engineering firm, Gray & Osborne, continues to move ahead with the planning for a $4.92 million plant.
To pay for the plant, residents of both Coulee Dam and Elmer City could see their monthly sewage rates soar to $70 or more, and Elmer City has threatened to pursue other options.
The addition of other financial partners would lessen that amount, but an Elmer City pullout would increase the price for remaining Coulee Dam utility customers.
Wednesday’s meeting agenda is to discuss the “partner/customer” issue and any other issues identified within the two towns’ agreement.