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Freeland sewer study approved

Freeland may be one step closer to having a sewer system.

Island County commissioners and the Freeland Water District signed an interlocal agreement last week authorizing a sewer study in Freeland. The Seattle engineering firm of Tetra-KCM will conduct the study, which is expected to be completed in eight to 12 months and cost $190,000. Island County will fund the study, which will be administered by the Island County Public Works department.

Tetra-KCM has been involved in developing Coupeville's sewer system and a number of smaller ones on the Kitsap Peninsula.

The firm will explore the options of using an existing system or developing a new one in a limited section of Freeland.

"They will look at tying Freeland in with the existing system at the Holmes Harbor Golf Course and will also consider other options, such as developing a smaller system just for Freeland," Island County planner Phil Baake said.

Once the plan is complete, Baake said, there will be a number of meetings for public input. Ultimately the residents within the boundaries of the proposed system will decide whether they want a system and, if so, what type would be the best.

If residents give the go-ahead, Baake said, the completed sewer plan will be sufficient to get the appropriate permits from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The interlocal agreement allows Island County to fund the project, then turn the completed study over to the Freeland Water District.

"If the district implements the new engineering plan, the water district will be paying back the county for the cost of the study," said Tom Roehl of the Freeland Water District and a member of the Freeland Planning Committee.

But Roehl cautions it won't become a general obligation bond for all customers of the Freeland Water district.

"That's an important point for people to understand," he said. "If the district implements the plan, the district will create a Local Improvement District, drawing a boundary around the property owners who support it."

Talk of a sewer in Freeland began in earnest four years ago during public meetings with the Freeland Planning Committee. The committee was charged with developing a comprehensive plan for Freeland, to include changes in the residential and commercial zoning areas, sewer and stormwater systems, infrastructure on Main Street and public and park areas. The committee took a break this spring while the county worked on finalizing the sewer study agreement. Roehl says he expects the committee to begin meeting again in November.

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