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Greenbank Farm faces septic failure

A litany of problems discovered with the Greenbank Farm’s septic system has officials concerned that it could fail.

A recent inspection found that the Port of Coupeville needs to drop between $12,000 and $17,000 to bring the system up to snuff.

That work doesn’t address what kind of contamination is in the farm’s drainfield.

Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, said during a recent commissioners meeting that olive oil and grease from the restaurant at the farm has gone through the system and into the drainfield.

“That has essentially poisoned the system,” Patton said during the meeting.

Other problems surrounding the septic system, which was installed in the 1980s, were caused by a lack of maintenance.

“There was never any fear anything would go wrong with the septic system,” Patton said. The Greenbank Farm has a large septic system and, for years, only one permanent resident has been living on the property.

However, the system has deteriorated over the years.

“The system, probably since its inception, hasn’t been maintained,” said Reed Tacia, owner of Reed’s Construction and Septic Rescue, the company hired by the port to inspect the farm’s sewer system.

Patton said that of the two pumps installed by Chateau St. Michelle in 1987, one isn’t functioning. The winery built the large system, which can handle 5,000 gallons of waste a day, so the farm could become an events center.

Tacia warned that businesses would have to shut down if the septic system at the farm fails.

The deteriorating system isn’t the only such farm problem officials are trying to resolve.

When Barn B, which houses a commercial kitchen and a cheese shop, was renovated, its septic system wasn’t installed properly, Patton said. Valves on the system are rusted and the tank is too small.

When asked if there is any legal recourse against the company that installed the building’s system four years ago, he said he is having trouble finding documentation on who did the work.

“I think the thing to do is to fix the problem and not to blame,” Patton said.

Finding money to pay for the needed repairs could be difficult. The port’s reserves are nearly exhausted and a levy election the port ran in November 2008 was trounced by the voters. Officials are looking to run another levy later this year.

The problems concerning the septic system were discovered when the state required the port to pay for regular inspections of the farm’s system.

The port awarded a $4,700 contract to Reed’s Construction to inspect the system. The inspection unveiled all of the problems.

Even before the inspections, there were indicators there were problems. The port had to budget $5,600 to install a grease trap at the cafe to help prevent clogs.

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