March 13, 2013 | LXXII, No. 50

Lower sewer rates possibilities shown

Gray & Osborne engineers outlined ways for Coulee Dam and Elmer City to get their monthly sewer rates down in a letter to Coulee Dam Mayor Quincy Snow that was distributed after the last city council meeting.

Coulee Dam residents currently pay $59 a month for sewer service and Elmer City pays $35 a month. Both towns will need to up their rates to pay a $4.92 million loan for the wastewater treatment plant.

Engineer Jeff Stevens, in his letter, outlined a plan in which the town of Coulee Dam would change its current funding source from the Department of Ecology to USDA Rural Development, which currently offers a 2.5 percent loan over 40 years, rather than 20.

If the town went this route, it could reduce the rate increase necessary from $33 a month to $17 a month.

If the town was successful, Stevens wrote, in getting into a funding relationship with the Colville Tribes through an Indian Health Services grant, the rates could be further reduced.

Stevens also noted that work with the Bureau of Reclamation to get the agency to stop treating wastewater in a plant in the Third Powerhouse and connect to Coulee Dam’s plant could also provide benefits.

Stevens outlined a list of grant possibilities that could and would further reduce the monthly costs to households of the two towns.

A critic of the plan, Greg Wilder has since written a rebuttal of Gray & Osborne’s presentation. The complete text of each can be found at The Star Online site at grandcoulee.com

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