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Despite resistance, town moves on with plant plans

DOE brushes off Elmer City concerns


Last updated 6/20/2012 at 2:23pm

The Coulee Dam Town Council voted last Wednesday night to sign a loan agreement with the state Department of Ecology for a $4.992 million loan for its proposed wastewater treatment plant.

In addition the council voted to move ahead and give the okay for Gray & Osborne, the town’s engineering firm, to proceed with the design for the plant.

The action was taken in spite of questions raised by a local resident Greg Wilder and the town of Elmer City, who have questioned the size of the plant and some of the redundancies in equipment as well as other aspects of the project.

Elmer City’s Council on Thursday asked Mayor Mary Jo Carey to set up a meeting with the town’s attorney, K & L Gates, a Spokane firm. The council is still trying to figure out if a 50-year agreement between the towns of Coulee Dam and Elmer City establish whether Elmer City is a partner in the proposed wastewater treatment plant or just a customer of Coulee Dam. Elmer City will spend $275 per hour of its attorney’s time to find out.

Meanwhile, a copy of a letter sent to the Department of Ecology by the Colville Confederated Tribes asks that its loan agreement with Coulee Dam be held up while a number of the issues being raised are reviewed.

That letter was dated June 7, and was sent to the United States Department of Environmental Protection and the Washington State Department of Ecology, with copies to Washington’s two U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as State Senator Linda Evans Parlette.

While listed to receive a copy of that letter, town officials said Monday that they have not received it.

The state’s Department of Ecology had already sent a letter to Elmer City’s Mayor Carey, dated May 15, essentially brushing aside the concerns that she raised about the wastewater project.

In that letter, DOE went through the grant and loan process and stated that Coulee Dam’s wastewater treatment plant project ranked 21 out of 90 received and will be funded at an interest rate of 2.7 percent over the 20-year period.

The DOE letter states that at each juncture in the process there were periods set aside for comment and none of significance were made.

The DOE further stated that the life of a wastewater treatment plants is anywhere between 20-25 years and Coulee Dam’s plant is nearly 40 years old.

Currently, Coulee Dam is going through the final environmental evaluation, which the town says is just about over.

DOE stated that Coulee Dam could not spend any money on the design until this was complete.

Charles McKinney, section manager for the DOE, stated that his department would be happy to facilitate a meeting to help inform all those involved in, and affected by, the process.

Coulee Dam Mayor Quincy Snow said his town would be delighted to have a meeting so that all the parties would get correct information.

A few weeks ago, the town council of Coulee Dam voted to instruct its engineering firm, Gray & Osborne, to file a request for a lower interest loan with the state’s Public Works Trust Fund for a 1-percent loan. That was filed just before the May 31 deadline; however, a decision on that won’t be forthcoming until sometime in August. Mayor Snow said Monday that he didn’t think that application would produce anything for the town.


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