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Wastewater Treatment and Water Reuse System for Carlsborg UGA

Frequently Asked Questions

^Arrow to Top^ Why is a sewer system proposed for Carlsborg?

PUD #1 of Clallam County and Clallam County are planning a sanitary sewer system for the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area (UGA). The sewer system will produce reclaimed water for beneficial uses. The sewer system is being proposed for several reasons:photo

Protecting public health: Conventional on-site septic systems do not efficiently remove nitrates from septic effluent before it reaches groundwater. This is a problem because many people get their drinking water from shallow wells, and excessive nitrates in drinking water can cause serious health concerns in people with compromised digestive systems such as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Data from the County and other agencies show that nitrate levels in shallow, local groundwater in the Carlsborg area have increased over time. Concerns were triggered some years ago when some wells were found to have nitrate levels that pose a public health hazard. Building a sewer system would reduce the number of on-site septic systems that are contributing to groundwater degradation.

Fostering economic health: Building a sewer system will allow planned commercial and industrial development to proceed and residential densities to increase because it will no longer be necessary to set aside land for on-site septic systems. It will also supply reclaimed water that can be used for certain beneficial uses instead of potable water. This will reduce the demand for potable water and allow the PUD to supply water to more properties under state water rules.

Protecting water quality and wildlife: Water shortages and pollutants threaten aquatic life in Matriotti Creek and the Dungeness River. Reclaimed water will be used to increase flow in Matriotti Creek, which will improve habitat for salmonid species on the brink of extinction and other aquatic life in the creek and downstream in the Dungeness River. The Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda includes the Carlsborg sewer as a priority project.

It’s the law: Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) requires local governments to manage growth by protecting critical areas and natural resource lands, designating urban growth areas, and providing appropriate land use regulations and infrastructure for urban areas.

In accordance with the GMA, Clallam County designated Carlsborg as a UGA in 2000. This designation, as well as UGA planning efforts in other counties, has been appealed to the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. On April 23, 2008 the state Hearings Board declared that the UGA designation for Carlsborg was invalid because Clallam County did not have detailed plans to provide and fund sanitary sewer service. In June, 2012 the Hearings Board rescinded their decision on Carlsborg 's invalidity on a technicality. The County is proceeding with sewer planning to protect public health, foster economic health and protect water quality and wildlife, which will allow Carlsborg to remain a UGA.

^Arrow to Top^What happens if we do not build a sewer?

With a sewer system and a UGA, businesses in Carlsborg will be allowed to expand and commercial and residential development will be permitted at a greater density than in rural areas. If the Carlsborg community chooses not to build a sewer system, many areas would have to be re-zoned as low density rural.

Two zoning options exist for Carlsborg without a sewer:

LAMIRD: The first option is to establish “limited areas of more intensive rural development” (LAMIRDs). This is an option for only limited areas in the UGA. A LAMIRD designation allows fully developed non-rural land uses as of July 1, 1990 to continue. A few areas in Carlsborg that were built out in 1990 could be adopted as LAMIRDs. Areas including the Industrial Park would likely not qualify based on 1990 aerial photographs and public records. The criteria for a LAMIRD is set forth in state law (RCW 36.70A.070(5)(d)). Development regulations must ensure that infill development in a LAMIRD is “similar to the use, scale, size, or intensity of the uses that existed as of July 1, 1990.”

Rural zoning: Those areas that cannot be justified as LAMIRDs would likely be rezoned to a rural density such as R5, which means 1 dwelling unit per 4.8 acres, from the current density of 1 dwelling unit per half acre. Uses would be limited to low density, non-industrial uses.

Existing non-conforming uses could be allowed to continue but could not expand or change. A conditional use permit (CUP) before a public hearing and the Hearing Examiner would be required for any request to enlarge or alter the use.

^Arrow to Top^Who would connect to the sewer system?

An initial sewer system is planned to include a sewer line running generally north-south down Carlsborg Rd. The initial sewer line may branch to a few other streets. The properties to connect to the initial system would be determined during the subscription process.

The PUD and Clallam County are completing a Sewer Facilities Plan that will fulfill the GMA requirements to show it is possible to make sanitary sewer service available throughout the Carlsborg UGA over a 20-year planning period. In reality, sewer will be extended beyond the initial system as developers and other property owners are willing to pay their share of constructing the extension.

The PUD and Clallam County are continuing to work with the community to learn more about who is and is not interested in participating in an initial system. Only properties within the UGA may connect to the sewer.

By state law, mobile home communities cannot be compelled to pay for or connect to a sewer system, except in the case of a failing on-site septic system.

^Arrow to Top^What is the benefit to residents?

The availability of sewer service usually increases the value of residential properties. Sewer service means more flexibility in how a property is used and in some cases allows owners to subdivide their properties if they wish. It would allow building permits for home remodels or expansion.

On-site systems eventually fail and need to be repaired or replaced. Connection to sewer would eliminate this cost and the cost and inconvenience of septic tank pumping and inspections. Carlsborg is in the Marine Recovery Area which requires annual inspections of septic systems under the new State Board of Health regulations if you have an enhanced system or every three years for a conventional system. The first inspection must be performed by a professional for both types of systems.

It is important to note that connecting to sewer during the initial phase will likely cost less than waiting to connect later. This is in part because the PUD and the County are working hard to get outside funding to help launch the initial phase of the project. The remaining local share of the capital costs will be financed through a low interest Public Works Trust Fund loan with 5yr. deferment and 30 years to pay, instead of requiring immediate payment in full.

Building a sewer system would help protect drinking water from nitrate pollution and other contaminants in wastewater that are more effectively removed by treatment facilities.

^Arrow to Top^ What if my on-site septic system works fine?

The proposed sewer project is still at the planning stage. Clallam County is working to develop draft policies to govern who will connect and when. For example, in some communities, people wait until they need to make a major investment in their septic system and then connect to sewer instead.

The County will consider the following topics for the new policies:

  • Financial hardship & senior citizen discount
  • 'Grandfather provisions'
  • Demonstrated septic system performance
  • Distance to sewer line
  • Remodel of existing buildings
  • Change of property ownership
  • Allowed duration of onsite septic system once sewer is available

The County will base the draft policies on recommendations from the Carlsborg Community Advisory Council. The council acts as a liaison between Carlsborg Urban Growth Area citizens and the County. Opportunities for public input will be advertised before the policies are finalized.

^Arrow to Top^What will it cost me to connect to the sewer system?

Although the initial sewer system today is estimated to cost $16 million, it is not known yet how much it will cost each resident or business that connects to the system.

This is mainly because questions remain about the amount of funding that can be obtained from such sources as grants, appropriations and low-interest loans.

Clallam County and the PUD know it will be necessary to get outside funding to limit the cost to property owners. The more funding obtained from these sources, the lower the cost for those who connect to the system.

Determining the exact costs to property owners for the sewer system is an iterative process of:

  • Getting outside funding such as grants, appropriations and low-interest loans,
  • Getting input from property owners about who wants to be served by the initial system so we know how big to build the system and how many people will share the costs, and
  • Developing engineering details so we have a more definite estimate of construction costs.

There would be three types of cost to a sewer customer:

  • Connection charge to connect to sewer.
  • Monthly utility bills for operations & maintenance.
  • On-site costs for installing pipe and in some instances pumps. There will be additional costs for existing development to decommission septic systems.

Sewer service would eliminate the cost of septic tank pumping and inspections. Carlsborg is in the Marine Recovery Area which requires annual inspections of septic systems under the new State Board of Health regulations if you have an enhanced system or every three years for a conventional system. The first inspection must be performed by a professional for both types of systems.

Connecting to sewer during the initial phase will likely cost less than waiting to connect later. This is in part because the PUD and the County are working hard to get outside funding to help launch the initial phase of the project.

^Arrow to Top^When will user costs be known?

The PUD has been authorized to receive a Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) loan for $10,000,000. Clallam County has committed a $3,000,000 grant towards funding the initial sewer system plus $1,000,000 in loans for hardship assistance to property owners. Thus $14,000,000 in funding is available to build the Initial System without any specific financial obligation for any property owners.

Repayment of the PWTF loan can be deferred for 5 years. The annual payment will be about $450,000. Clallam County has committed part of their Opportunity Fund to repay the PWTF loan, which will be passed through the PUD. Loan terms may also require the PUD to establish a reserve fund.

Connection charges can therefore be set at the discretion of the County and the PUD to encourage property owners to connect to the Initial System to reduce public health risks and to increase the system revenue to pay for O&M costs. To facilitate these twin objectives, the County and the PUD may implement a proposed phased approached for connection charges. The County and the PUD will negotiate the specifics of the connection charges and the allocation of the revenue received to both governments. A conceptual phased connection charge program may be as summarized below:

  • Subscription period during a few months before design starts for existing development only at charges of $100 to $1,000 per ERU
  • Extended subscription period could follow through bid advertisement with charges of $1,000 to $5,000 per ERU for existing development and $5,000 to $10,000 for proposed new development
  • Reduced charge period extending for 5 years after construction completed with charges of $10,000 to $20,000 per ERU for existing development and $15,000 to $25,000 for proposed new development

Phasing connection charges would encourage property owners to connect sooner than later. Once the initial sewer system begins operation, sufficient wastewater flow would be collected to facilitate effective treatment operation. The revenue stream generated would fund the O&M costs. The connection charges collected can fund sewer extensions that some property owners desire that exceed committed funding.

The Carlsborg Community Advisory Council is currently reviewing the conceptual phased connection charge program and will provide recommendations on the program to the Clallam County Commissions.

Final costs will be known once the sewer system is constructed.

^Arrow to Top^How can we get outside funding?

The County and the PUD are working closely with funding agencies and state and federal elected officials to obtain funding for the Carlsborg UGA sewer project. In March 2009, the Public Works Board (PWB) of the Washington Department of Commerce formed a team of finance experts from State and Federal infrastructure funding agencies to help prepare a funding strategy.

The County and the PUD have entered into an intensive period of seeking funds to decrease costs to property owners.

In August 2010, the PWB approved the PUD's $10 million low-interest loan application. Demonstrating public support is an important way to improve the chances of getting other outside funding.

To date, Clallam County and the Clallam PUD have received approximately $185,000 dollars in grant funding from the Departments of Commerce and Ecology to fund the preparation of the Sewer Feasibility Study and the preparation of the pre-draft Sewer Facilities Plan.

^Arrow to Top^Where are we in the sewer planning process?

A Draft Final Sewer Facilities Plan was recently prepared and is available at the PUD's website: A Sewer Facilities Plan is required by the State Growth Management Act for a UGA.

The Plan identifies:

  • An initial sewer services area,
  • The Recommended Alternative,
  • A development schedule to serve the entire UGA by the end of the 20-year planning period,
  • The estimated cost per average residence for connections to sewer, and
  • Financing strategy and funding sources.

The Carlsborg Sewer Facilities Plan was submitted for review to the WA Department of Ecology in June 2012. On November 15, 2012 the facilities plan was approved.

The completed and approved Sewer Facilities Plan makes the sewer project eligible for a variety of funding programs. The next phase is to start design. Construction is expected to occur in later phases, with an initial service area that would be constructed by 2015 if funding is available.

Draft Sewer Planning Process & Timeline

^Arrow to Top^Will PUD #1 of Clallam County supply potable water to the whole Urban Growth Area?

Yes. The Washington Department of Ecology is working with Clallam County on developing a new permitting procedure for future in-stream and out-of-stream water uses in the Dungeness River watershed. This will provide a mechanism for the PUD to obtain water for current water needs and future growth. PUD #1 of Clallam County has updated their water system plan that describes how water could be supplied to the whole UGA using these new permitting procedures. Information about draft plan and public review can be found on the PUD #1 of Clallam County website.

^Arrow to Top^ What can I do?

Show public support – Demonstrating public support is an important way to improve the chances of getting outside funding for the sewer project. You can get assistance in writing a letter of support by contacting Tom Martin of PUD #1 of Clallam County, at or 360-565-3449.

Talk to your neighbors – Talk to your neighbors about:

  • Efforts to make the sewer project affordable
  • Role & importance of public participation
  • Project’s risks and rewards

Stay informed - Join the sewer project e-mail list to receive periodic project updates by contacting Tom Martin at PUD #1 of Clallam County, at or 360-565-3449.


Last Updated November 20, 2012