Eastsound Sewer and Water rate increase explained

by Susan Kimple

Eastsound Sewer and Water District Manager

In October of last year, the Eastsound Sewer and Water District sent a letter to all users of the sewer system informing them of the need to repair, upgrade and expand the existing wastewater facilities in Eastsound. To update everyone, last year the Eastsound Sewer and Water District commissioned an engineering report to evaluate the existing wastewater treatment plant in Eastsound and provide a recommendation for what would be needed to meet the needs of the Eastsound community into the future. That report identified the need to increase the treatment capacity for two major reasons.

Both existing treatment plant cells are in need of being taken offline for repairs, maintenance and refurbishing. Treatment cell #1 is over 40 years old and was recoated 22 years ago. Treatment cell #2 is over 22 years old and has never been taken offline for repairs and maintenance. The current wastewater flows to the plant are at a level that requires both treatment cells to handle those flows; therefore, a third treatment cell is needed to take either of the other cells offline for repairs.

In the preceding two summer seasons, Eastsound has seen flows and loading at the treatment plant that are getting close to the design capacity. The district has seen a record number of new connections to the sewer system in recent years and currently has approximately 80 equivalent residential units reserved for connection within the next year.

We know that flows to the treatment plant will continue to increase. The Department of Ecology mandates that when a wastewater treatment plant reaches 80 percent of its design capacity for three consecutive months, then planning for treatment plant expansion must begin.

The Board of Commissioners recognize the need to move forward with the Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion Project and they also recognize the need to perform much-needed repairs and maintenance of the existing treatment cells. This work will be separate from the expansion project but is just as important.

The Board of Commissioners also recognized that ESWD has not had a rate increase in 10 years and at this time needs to increase rates sufficient to establish funding for depreciation and the repairs and maintenance of the existing wastewater treatment facility.

This is to notify you that at their regular meeting dated Feb. 11, 2020, the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to establish a capital repairs surcharge and increase the monthly sewer service rates by $15 per equivalent residential unit. Monies received from this surcharge will go directly into the Eastsound Capital Reserve Fund and will be used for the refurbishing and upgrading of the existing wastewater treatment cells. Residents interested in seeing the breakdown of monthly sewer service can access a spreadsheet at https://eswd.org/wastewater-treatment-plant-repairs-maintenance-rate-increase/.

The Board of Commissioners will be holding a “Town Hall Meeting” at the Eastsound Fire Hall on March 9 at 5:30 p.m. in order to discuss these issues with the community. We look forward to seeing you there.