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Foes file appeal, continue the fight against spraying

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

Criticism continues to swirl around a proposal to spray waste from septic tanks and portable toilets onto the forest floor near Carbonado.

The story broke last week of a deal between the White River School District and Cascade Northwest, a regional company looking for a means to get rid of its waste. One option is to discharge the contents of its tanker trucks into municipal wastewater treatment plants; the other, suggested for the school district land, is to mix lime into the waste then pump it into forest land.

The White River district owns a tree farm just south and east of Carbonado, acreage that is drained by numerous small streams that wind their way to larger waterways.

Cascade Northwest approached the district about using its land, offering to pay a penny per gallon for the waste that is sprayed. The district stands to make an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 per year through the arrangement.

Assistant Superintendent Roger Marlow admitted the figure isn't much when considering the district's overall annual operating budget, but said every bit of revenue helps taxpayers. More important, he said, is the fact that state and county agencies have said Cascade Northwest's product, referred to as “septage,” is not an environmental threat.

Folks who live in the area aren't so certain and have mounted a campaign to halt the plan.

Opponents of the plan initially went to the Pierce County Department of Planning and Land Services, asking that approval be delayed. When that was rejected, a formal appeal was lodged by Friends of the Carbon Canyon and others.

Specifically, opponents are asking that a formal environmental impact statement be completed and that a public meeting be called.

Opponents of the project are sponsoring a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Carbonado School gymnasium. Additionally, project foes are planning on taking their concerns to the Nov. 14 meeting of the White River School Board.

Scott Hubbard, superintendent of the Carbonado Historical School District, said he has concerns about the spraying project, both as a school official charged with protecting childrens' safety and as a town resident.

“This is our drinking water,” he said, expressing concern that septage sprayed into the forest will find its way into nearby streams.

Hubbard attended a meeting at Carbonado Town Hall last week and said he asked twice if any studies exist showing an application of septage has no negative effects. Hubbard said he was told that no such studies exist.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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