County says yes to Freeland sewer plan

It was one small step forward for the Freeland sewer plan Monday when Island County commissioners unanimously approved the Freeland comprehensive sewer plan and engineering report plan.

Commissioners picked the plan instead of a competing plan by the Main Street Sewer District. Commissioners said the Freeland Water District is the most appropriate entity to oversee the future sewer district.

“I’ve struggled with this. There may be a small savings by Main Street, but it will reach its capacity in 2015,” said Commissioner Bill Byrd.

“I have to cast my lot with the Freeland Water District plan because it is a firmer, more solid plan,” he said.

Main Street had argued that they could offer wastewater treatment services by expanding this current system for less money. But the amount of money saved wasn’t enough, said Commissioner Mac McDowell.

“Costs are relatively the same. A few percentage points over the next 40 years can’t be predicted,” McDowell said. “There would need to be a 50 to 100 percent

savings, not a 10 to 20 percent difference.”

“There has to be confidence from the public, too. The Freeland Water District is a capable organization. It has been in business a long time and done a good job,” McDowell added.

Attempts to contact Main Street Sewer District commissioner Erl Bangston were unsuccessful.

The Freeland comprehensive sewer plan has now passed all levels of approval at the county level.

The next step is the resolution of the lawsuit filed by Main Street state against the state Department of Health and the state Department of Ecology. Hearings have been set for May.

Main Street commissioners had hoped to convince the county commissioners that its small system — built to serve the retirement community at the south end of Freeland — could be expanded to serve the town’s busy business core.

County officials, however, noted that Main Street could only serve the area until 2015, when the system would reach 85 percent of its capacity. Then another large new system would need to be constructed.

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