Elmer City Mayor Mary Jo Carey stated that the disagreement between Coulee Dam and Elmer City on the proposed wastewater treatment plant was like a “family feud.”
Carey made that statement last Wednesday night at the end of the Coulee Dam Town Council meeting. She added that both towns want the same thing and it was time for them to wind down the rhetoric and work together.
The two towns have been locked in a disagreement about the best way to address the aging wastewater treatment plant that treats sewage for both towns.
The meeting started with Councilmember Karl Hjorten telling fellow council members where he was on the wastewater treatment issue. He said he wanted to recap a few things before making a motion.
Hjorten used the published words of civic activist Greg Wilder to take issue with Wilder’s conclusions about the plant. He cited letters to the town, letters to the editor, and public statements to dispute Wilder’s claims that the town project was ill conceived, particularly the numbers Wilder was using.
He also cited a letter to the town from Carey that said Elmer City was going to build its own plant.
Hjorten made his own conclusions and then made a motion for the town to move forward with the design phase of the project.
That brought a response from Larry Holford, a council member at Elmer City, who asked that the town of Coulee Dam keep its word that it was going to slow down the process for three months while other avenues of finance were explored.
Coulee Dam’s council had voted in January to stop the design process for a three-month period while the town worked with other potential financial partners.
Hjorten’s motion failed to get a second, and he stated that he would wait until the town’s first meeting in April before repeating the motion. That meeting is scheduled for April 10.
The consensus was to get a couple of council members from each town together with the Colville Tribes to explore additional funding sources.
Wilder pointed out that the tribes had made it clear that they would not support any effort by the Indian Health Service to participate in the project without a review of the plans and a study of alternate ideas for the plant.
The window of opportunity for such a meeting is narrow, and there are only a few weeks before Coulee Dam’s council makes a decision whether it will move ahead with the design phase of the project.
The next night, four Coulee Dam council members attended Elmer City’s council meeting. Coulee Dam Councilmember Bob Poch thanked Elmer City for inviting them. There were no exchanges between the two councils at that meeting.