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Town to build its own sewer plant


Elmer City voted last Thursday to build its own wastewater treatment plant.

The measure to build a modular plant, on property to be determined, got a unanimous vote from the town’s five council members.

The decision wasn’t much of a surprise, since the town has been in disagreement with Coulee Dam for some time over billings and other matters. Elmer City pumps about 21 percent of the flow to Coulee Dam’s present plant.

With this decision, if successful, Elmer City will leave its larger neighbor with a new plant and no partner.

While the vote was unanimous, it still leaves a number of questions. There was no report to the council on what the timeline would be on an Elmer City plant. This week, however, Mayor Gail Morin stated, “I think it will be built within three years.”

Elmer City got some support to build its own plant from a meeting with the Colville Tribes, Indian Health Services and its engineer, Brian Belsby. All agreed, according to Elmer City officials, that Elmer City should go on its own with a modular plant. The modular plant was the featured plan in the town’s alternative study commissioned by the IHS.

Still up in the air is the question of Elmer City’s aging and inadequate pumping station.

Coulee Dam has advised Elmer City that it needs to upgrade its pumping station so that it will be able to accommodate the need when Coulee Dam’s new plant goes online in March 2018.

The pumping station will need to pump the flow some 20 feet higher than it now does.

Two members of Coulee Dam’s council and two of its engineers attended Elmer City’s September council meeting and pointed this out.

Morin said Monday that “it has to be done. The question is who is going to pay for it.”

The cost, according to reports, could be as high as $500,000. She said that Elmer City plans to meet with the Colville Tribes as soon as possible in regard to its decision to build its own plant.

Public Works Director Jimmer Tillman said Thursday night, “We will work with them,” in reference to Coulee Dam’s new plant startup in March.

The two towns are in year 42 of a 50-year agreement on using the current plant for sewer treatment.

However, when Elmer City starts up its own plant, all it will have to do is shut off the valve to end the relationship.


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