Towns splitting on wastewater plant question


Last updated 4/16/2014 at 10:21am

Two towns, Coulee Dam and Elmer City, linked together by wastewater treatment issues, plan to go it alone in seeking an alternative analysis to determine how to proceed with a treatment plant plan.

Elmer City, moments before the town council met last Thursday, received word from Indian Health Services that the agency plans to fund $27,600 of a feasibility study in regard to wastewater treatment. The town will add $6,400 to the study for a total of $34,000.

The town council acknowledged the announcement, but didn’t formally act on it at its meeting.

Coulee Dam also started a similar process last Thursday, inviting engineering firms to present “statements of qualifications” for the town to consider in the selection of a firm to revise or amend the town’s wastewater treatment plan.

Coulee Dam also invited Elmer City Mayor Pro-tem Donna DeWinkler and Ron Toulou from the Colville Tribes to to the meeting with Coulee Dam Mayor Greg Wilder, public works Superintendent Barry Peacock and wastewater treatment plant operator Tim Lynch.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Three firms were selected from among the nine who provided statements. The three firms are: Wilson Engineering from Bellingham; Varela & Associates of Spokane; and TD&H Engineering of Spokane.

These three firms will be invited to further participate in a selection process involving the Coulee Dam Town Council.

Currently, Coulee Dam treats Elmer City’s sewage at its wastewater treatment plant in east Coulee Dam under a 50-year agreement.

A $4.92 million plan to upgrade the existing plant that serves both towns, which had been due to begin in 2014, stalled as Wilder won the mayoral election after campaigning against the plan.

During the campaign to stall the project, Elmer City joined forces with Wilder. Elmer City has since indicated that it might go it alone in developing its own wastewater treatment plant, gaining the support of Indian Health Services.

The two alternative analyses of the $4.92 million plan to build at Coulee Dam’s present site, will get viewing from two perspectives.

Wilder stated that the IHS study will essentially determine what is best for Elmer City, while the Coulee Dam study will determine what is in the best interests of the two towns.

The Coulee Dam study, estimated by Wilder at $60,000 - $90,000, may be paid for from the initial loan the town sought from the Department of Ecology.

“They are still studying if they will do that,” Wllder stated Monday. If not, he said, the town will pay for it with its own funds.


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