Waste water treatment plant keeps growth at bay

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Steps that will keep large-scale development at bay for another six months were approved last week by the Enumclaw City Council. It was the simple repetition of an exercise council members have taken for years and will continue to tackle.

Development was placed on hold when it was deemed the existing wastewater treatment plant fails to meet contemporary state standards. Plant effluent is an especially tricky matter, since the plant dumps into the White River, home to Chinook salmon and bull trout, both occupying a spot on the endangered-species list.

While it might seem the moratorium is dragging on forever, especially to those who would like to develop Enumclaw property, there are significant signs things are moving ahead.

When the council was briefed last week, prior to approving another six-month extension on the moratorium, Public Works Director Chris Searcy took the opportunity to run down a laundry list of items either completed or under way.

A major issue has been a wetland area directly north of the current plant, sitting in the way of the city's expansion plans. The city's plan is to fill the wetland and, according to rules imposed by the Department of Ecology, create a wetland of similar size nearby. The city plans to build a wetland area east of the Foothills Trail, south of Warner Avenue and north of Roosevelt Avenue.

The city proposal has not yet been given DOE approval.

Also, the city has added a temporary employee, Alan Lobdell, to serve as “capital projects manager.” He has been on board since the fall, deals with nothing but the treatment plant and will continue with the project until completion. The city is paying a placement firm $79 per hour for Lobdell's services and his hours vary from week to week, Searcy said.

To pay for the plant upgrade, the city has secured $24.7 million in low-interest loans from the state's Public Works Trust Fund. The money will be repaid with an interest rate of one-half of 1 percent.

The budget for the project has steadily grown since plant improvements were first talked about and now sits at about $23 million.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at

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