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The original item was published from 10/26/2020 8:37:13 AM to 5/20/2021 6:46:56 AM.

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Rates, Utility Tax, Rental Charge

Posted on: November 1, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Commissioners' Corner (Issue 190)


The District operates two wastewater treatment plants providing treatment of the wastewater collected from your homes and businesses. One is located in the Redondo neighborhood and the other near Lakota Beach. These treatment plants, which were initially built over 60 years ago, both received significant upgrades over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, they are both nearing some capacity limitations. 

With the significant growth in the area and more stringent regulations on wastewater discharge, the District is looking to invest in large capital projects to upgrade and expand these facilities. When completed, these upgrades will provide another 30-plus years of sewer capacity. Managing the increased

demand and regulatory changes takes careful planning. Fortunately, in the 1970’s,80’s, and 90’s, smart and forward-looking staff and commissioners anticipated the potential growth and the eventual need to expand. One aspect of this planning was to make certain that there was adequate space for future plant expansion.

The Lakota treatment plant sits on about 22.5 acres of land, with 19 acres of adjacent land owned by the District. The current uses require only a fraction of the total land. Imagine the challenge of finding that amount of space today in the Federal Way area. While the District’s smaller Redondo plant (about half the capacity of Lakota) sits on a 6 acre parcel with much less room for expansion, we still have some room for upgrades that will make the plant more efficient. With its larger land area, it is clear that the Lakota plant will be where the greatest expansion of treatment facilities occurs. Fortunately, much of the property should remain in its natural state as a buffer to adjoining properties!

The reality is that upgrading and expanding wastewater plants is expensive. For Lakota alone, we are planning to invest close to $100 million dollars in the next ten years. Expanding the capacity of the treatment plants, however, is notjust about enlarging the physical plants. Reducing vagrant flows of water that come into the plants, particularly at the Redondo Plant, can also provide a large measure of added capacity. Over the past three years, the

District has identified areas within the wastewater collection system where ground water seeps into the collection pipes at high volumes. This intrusion, referred to as “I & I” (Inflow & Infiltration), occurs when aging pipes, including side sewers, wear out or become damaged. During significant rain events, rainwater seeps into the collection system, where it is transported to the treatment plants. In an effort to mitigate the impact of this, we have initiated projects to repair these sewer pipes by re-lining them. The cost of re-lining is significantly less than installing new sewer pipes and is more “environmentally friendly”.

The ongoing challenge is to figure out how to repair infrastructure and expand capacity efficiently. With the help of our capable staff, the Board continues to squeeze every  dollar and invest in the best new technologies and alternatives that will keep us within our financial means as we upgrade the wastewater system.

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