EDITORIAL | Freeland sewer proposals are welcome suggestions

  • Saturday, August 5, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

Two new proposals have been pitched for the Freeland sewer project, one to build an outfall in Mutiny Bay and the other to send effluent to Langley’ treatment plant.

While the feasibility of both remains unknown, they are indeed welcome suggestions as was noted by Freeland Water and Sewer District Commissioner Lou Malzone. The current project appears to be in its death throes, stricken with financial and technical challenges. These possible solutions, however unlikely, came just in time and both the county and Langley Mayor Tim Callison deserve a nod for their willingness to offer a hand.

Efforts to bring sewers to Freeland have been ongoing for more than a decade, resulting in proposals ranging from the very large to the very small, such as the current Phase 1A vision which would cover just the commercial core. They’ve all had their shortcomings, including today’s project design, many of which center on the 24-acre property the district bought to house a wastewater treatment plant and disperse treated effluent. It turns out the property’s geology and the chosen tech may not be up to snuff.

To make matters worse, the customer base — under 80 property owners — is so small that it can’t affordably shoulder the financial load of the $12-plus million project, or specifically the $5 million funding gap. But even if the project was fully funded with grants, rates would still be the highest in the state.

Yet the facts remains: sewers will help thwart the threat of rising nitrogen levels in Freeland’s existing wells, and will be boon for growth as existing septic fields can be converted to developable space. The state also says we should have them, that it’s the environmentally responsible thing to do when communities grow to a certain size.

District commissioners have worked hard in recent years trying to make this thing happen and they shouldn’t give up now, especially with the county’s and Langley’s willingness to help.

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