Freeland water district turns to sewers

The Freeland Water District is on track to become a sewer system despite recent developments that have slowed the process.

On Tuesday, Freeland Water District commissioners decided to push ahead with the county’s comprehensive sewer plan in spite of efforts by commissioners of Main Street Sewer System to step in ahead of the county plan.

“We are going to proceed on the track we began a year ago,” said Eric Davido, engineer for the Freeland Water District.

“The water district is doing what they’ve been charged to do by Island County, that is to become a sewer district,” he said.

Once the state Department of Ecology and Department of Health issue “certificates of necessity,” the district can legally become a sewer district.

At that point, Freeland Water District commissioners intend to adopt the county’s sewer plan. Representatives from both state offices have indicated the certificates should be issued soon.

Once that happens, the water district plans to hire a consulting firm to determine the economic feasibility of implementing the county’s comprehensive sewer plan.

Although water district commissioners are moving ahead with the county’s sewer plan, the door is still open to Main Street’s offer.

“The Freeland Water District is not closing the door on Main Street, but the burden of proof is on Main Street. It’s their dime,” Davido said.

Davido said the Freeland Water District commissioners have been very fair in their consideration of Main Street.

“They have to prove their system makes sense economically and receive approval from the state and county,” Davido said.

Erl Bangston is the developer of the Main Street Sewer System, which serves the Village at Maple Ridge senior condominiums. He hosted a meeting at Freeland Hall last week to explain why the Main Street plan is a viable alternative to the county’s plan. Bangston is one of the sewer district’s three commissioners.

Bangston says Main Street is an expandable system that, with modification, could serve the Freeland business core.

According to CHS, engineers hired by the Main Street commissioners, the system can only offer service until 2015. A second system would then be needed.

For Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton and others, that is a sticking point.

“I will not vote for a sewer plan that will only last until 2015,” Shelton said.

Cost of the upgrading Main Street is estimated at $6 million; the county’s sewer plan will cost $8 million to build.

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