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Change on the agenda

Letters to the Editor


“Nothing on the agenda” was the reason for canceling the August 7 Coulee Dam council meeting. July 22, 2013 a letter was sent to the Department of Ecology from Coulee Dam and the town’s engineers requesting funding for a revised plan to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The cost of this project is now well over $6,000,000. The reason for this request was “the high capital cost of the single-project alternative (Alternative 1) is not currently acceptable to the Town because of its impact on ratepayers.” Another rationale was “in response to the public outcry … with regards to the financial rate impact.” The project would be completed in two stages with a completion of the first stage by 2016 to be followed by the second stage in 2019. The engineers do not expect the cost of sewer treatment to change significantly. My guess is it will go up. That seems to be the trend.

Ratepayers in Coulee Dam, Elmer City and the Lone Pine area are now paying twice what the ratepayers at Rock Island are paying for sewer treatment. What is the difference? Rock Island has a new state-of-the-art facility. It has lower maintenance and operation (M&O) expenses that are half what we are currently charged.

I don’t know what the final decision will be regarding this problem. There are less expensive alternatives that are also more environmentally friendly. Our non-biodegradable sludge bags are discarded into a landfill. There are alternatives that produce very little sludge. Our plant is discharging treated WWTF water into the Columbia River. There are alternatives that could discharge little or no water. The engineers suggested they would be looking for more favorable financing and grants. Why didn’t they do that the first time?

It seemed the Coulee Dam residents would quietly accept the “test run” rate increases for the projected WWTF. Tuesday’s results in the primary election disproved that belief. In a couple of months the voters will be asked again to make a decision about who can ask the questions, do the research, and make decisions that will benefit the customers of the current WWTF. The Lone Pine area ratepayers who live outside of the voting area can talk to their friends and family and ask them to consider voting for someone who will do that.

Gail Morin

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