Photo courtesy of city of Oak Harbor
                                Workers are building a new sewage treatment plant in downtown Oak Harbor.

Photo courtesy of city of Oak Harbor Workers are building a new sewage treatment plant in downtown Oak Harbor.

Navy looks to send its sewage city’s way

Sewage from the Navy’s Seaplane Base may someday flow to the city of Oak Harbor’s bright and shiny new treatment plant.

Officials from the city and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island are talking about the possibility of hooking the Navy property into the city’s system at some point in the future, Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns said.

This is a turnaround from three years ago, when the city asked the Navy to be a partner in the construction of the new plant, which is located downtown, but the Navy turned down the offer.

At the time, Navy officials said they were unable to make a commitment on the cost-sharing agreement because of funding limitations and government regulations.

Councilman Rick Almberg, who’s been closely involved in monitoring the project, said he’s in favor of negotiating with the Navy.

Almberg said having the Navy hook into the system could help to control rates for sewage treatment.

But, he said, it’s essential that the Navy pay its way.

“I don’t want to be subsidizing another government agency at the expense of ratepayers,” he said.

Severns, however, said he was told by staff that a new rate study finds that the cost may not have to be as high as originally predicted.

The city’s sewage treatment plant would have been built larger if the Navy had been partnered with the city from the outset. Still, it has plenty of capacity, Almberg said, although adding the Navy as a customer would affect the lifespan of the facility.

The city currently operates sewage treatment lagoons, which are owned by the Navy and located on the Seaplane Base.

Once the city’s new treatment plant comes online at the end of the year, the city will hand those operations over to the Navy.

City officials say the lifespan of the lagoons is coming to an end. In the past, city staff warned about the possibility of an accidental discharge from flooding at the lagoons, which is surrounded by environmentally sensitive habitat.

Mike Welding, base public affairs officer, explained that the Navy hired a consultant “to provide technical support for turnover of the plant to the Navy and to identify long-term Navy wastewater treatment alternatives for the Seaplane Base.”

One of the alternatives the Navy is exploring, he confirmed, is for the Navy to become a customer of the city’s new sewage treatment plant at some point in the future.

In the short term, the Navy is pursuing a National Pollution Discharge Elimination Standard operating permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to operate the sewage treatment lagoons.

Photo courtesy of city of Oak Harbor
                                Workers are building a new sewage treatment plant in downtown Oak Harbor.

Photo courtesy of city of Oak Harbor Workers are building a new sewage treatment plant in downtown Oak Harbor.

More in News

Island County to simplify its code

For years, there have been complaints that Island County’s land-use code is… Continue reading

Hearing examiner to consider rezone, variance

The public is welcome to comment during an Oak Harbor hearing examiner… Continue reading

Beware the flamingos

Coupeville residents can donate to avoid a pink yard flock

County residents tend to be generous

People who live in Island County are among the most charitable in… Continue reading

Senators request contamination standards info

Washington’s two senators joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in requesting information… Continue reading

Local leaders discuss housing solutions — again

The restrictive nature of the state’s Growth Management Act, the lack of… Continue reading

Jamboree by the Sea coming in April

Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron, a Washington non-profit, is hosting two… Continue reading

County considers possible restoration at Oak Harbor Marina

Oak Harbor is trying to improve its marina both for boaters as… Continue reading

Coupeville Port looking to fill commissioner opening

Port of Coupeville commissioners are deciding how to fill a vacant seat… Continue reading

Most Read