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Freeland gains two supporters for sewer plan
The Freeland Water and Sewer District’s latest plans for sewers in Freeland received a small but ringing endorsement last week.
District commissioners held a public meeting Thursday evening to discuss details of the proposal, and although it was attended by just two commercial core property owners, the board closed the meeting with what appear to be two advocates of the project.
“I’m very impressed,” said Richard Soto, owner of the Harbor Inn. “You’ve made a believer out of me ... I wish you guys were here 10 years ago.”
Al Peyser, the other property owner in attendance, also spoke favorably of the proposal, though he maintained it must make sense financially for users.
“I would love to have a sewer system, but it has to pay,” Peyser said.
The construction of sewers in Freeland has been an ongoing discussion for years. Plans in 2012 came to a screeching halt, however, due to concerns that a nearly $40 million proposal was too far reaching.
The district is reviving a version of the plan, which is significantly scaled back in size and scope. Rather than encompassing the greater Freeland area, the commissioners are looking at sewers just in the commercial core — roughly between the post office and China City, and from the Freeland Library to Highway 525.
The exact cost of the project remains unconfirmed, but district officials have estimated the price tag at about $8 million. About $3 million is already in the bank and plans are in the works to secure additional state and federal funding.
Thursday’s discussion was geared around a presentation by Gray & Osborne, Inc., the district’s hired consulting firm, about project engineering details, such as operational flow rates and the type of treatment plant used.
Largely based on work done years earlier, the district is considering a membrane bio reactor or MBR plant to process effluent.
It’s the same technology Oak Harbor plans to use for its new treatment facility, which may cost as much as $76 million. MBR systems are more expensive than traditional technologies, but are generally more effective and require less space for operation.
But while the technology of a future system appears clear, the size of the plant the district needs has yet to be determined.
“That’s the million dollar question,” Commissioner Eric Hansen said. “How big does this plant need to be?”
The goal is to have a facility that can treat up to 75,000 gallons a day in 20 years, but the district may opt to purchase a smaller facility that’s expandable, which might reduce the initial cost and match early and lighter flow rates.
According to Freeland Water and Sewer District Manager Andy Campbell, the plant’s size will be determined through a Gray & Osborne feasibility study, which is slated for completion this summer.