Oak Harbor leaders should find a mutually effective way to work with the Navy to connect the Seaplane Base to the city’s new sewage treatment plant.
The terms, however, must be equitable and beneficial to the city’s ratepayers.
The Navy recently asked the City of Oak Harbor for cost quotes to hook into the sewage treatment system after years ago turning down the city’s offer to be a partner at the beginning of the sewage treatment plant project.
Bureaucracy and regulations were in the way, but now apparently it’s a different ballgame as the Navy explores long-term plans for sewage treatment.
The cost of having a bathroom in Oak Harbor has increased precipitously in recent years, and it’s not over. The city’s latest estimate is that sewer rates will climb to $112 a month in 2021.
If the Navy is paying its share for the utility, that should bring down city residents’ rates.
Connecting Navy housing to the state-of-the-art plant is also good for the environment. The city’s plant will discharge water that is clean enough to drink. The sewage lagoons on the Seaplane Base, which the Navy will continue to use, is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
The downside of Navy participation is that it will likely decrease the lifespan of the plant. A consultant that’s working on the cost quotes is supposed to consider that. That may be hard to put a cost on. It may be a high figure.
It’s unfortunate the Navy didn’t participate in the project from the beginning so the increased capacity could be factored in.
Hindsight is 20/20. Moving forward, however, the Navy, city and ratepayers may be faced with a win-win.