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Elmer City seeks Coulee Dam's financial help

Resistance voiced at council


Elmer City has requested Coulee Dam’s help in paying for adjustments needed to keep the two towns’ sewage treatment systems working together, an idea that met with resistance at Coulee Dam’s town council Wednesday night.

Coulee Dam, which treats Elmer City’s sewage, is building a new wastewater treatment plant, due to come online later this year.

Elmer City’s leadership has chosen to pursue building its own plant, but that would be years from opening, provided they are successful getting the financing to build it.

In the meantime, Coulee Dam is building a plant at a higher elevation than Elmer City can pump to, and which cannot process septic wastewater with as high a level of acidity as Elmer City’s.

Councilmember Bob Poch reported that, during a meeting on the matter, Elmer City representatives said they can’t afford the costs of the changes to continue to send their sewage to Coulee Dam and asked if Coulee Dam could finance the needed adjustments.

A figure of $50,000 was mentioned for new pumps, but Coulee Dam’s facilities superintendent, Mike Steffens, noted that wouldn’t cover the acidity problem.

Councilmember Keith St. Jeor, offering a history lesson for Coulee Dam’s new mayor and three new councilmembers, recalled that Elmer City had refused to be included in a grant application that would have reduced the costs of the new plant.

Elmer City Mayor Gail Morin at the time “shook her finger right at the people who were giving the grant and said, ‘Don’t include Elmer City,’” St. Jeor said, recalling a council meeting he attended before his election.

Months later, he recalled, when he was a member of the council, Morin was still “very persistent” in insisting that Elmer City had their own funding and did not want to be included in Coulee Dam’s project.

“Therefore, Coulee Dam chose to go on without them,” St. Jeor said. “We’ve had to go get a $5 million loan on our own; we’ve paid for all of the engineering.”

He said Coulee Dam also spent a lot of money on legal fees trying to follow up on the issue with a “flow of letters” to Elmer City but got nowhere.

“Their golden opportunity was when (Morin) could have not shook her finger at the grant people and been included in that grant and that loan,” he said. “They’ve got enough community down there, they can go get a loan.”

Mayor Larry Price said the meeting with Elmer City had gone very well, with a mutual feeling that, whatever happens, the two entities would end up being “friendly towns.”

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