The District administers an active Capital Program to maintain and expand the sanitary sewer collection system and other District assets. The Capital Program provides for the planning, development, and delivery of General Facilities Projects and Restoration & Replacement (R&R) projects. Starting from the 20-year planning horizon in the General Sewer Plan, the District further develops a 6-year program and ultimately an annual program to ensure we continue to provide reliable service to our customers. District staff designs small projects internally for bid and construction and utilizes professional consultants for technical expertise on all other projects. District staff provides construction management and inspections for most projects while utilizing consultant services when needed for large or complex projects and during peak construction periods to supplement staff. All work is performed under the direction of a licensed professional engineer.
As the community continues to grow, there is an increased demand for new sewer infrastructure. As identified in the General Sewer Plan, the District has developed a long range plan to expand the collection system throughout our service area. This plan identifies the necessary capital improvements that must be in place to efficiently sewer the area. The improvements are the “General Facilities”; the major trunk sewers and pump stations and force mains. Local sewer mains and individual services are not programmed or considered “general Facilities” as they are the responsibility of the individual developer or customer seeking service. The cost of constructing the General Facilities is funded through the payment of System Development Charges (SDC’s), often referred to as connection charges. The District collects a SDC at the time of connection for every new “Equivalent Residential Unit” (ERU) added or connecting to the system.
The Restoration and Replacement program (R&R) is a rate funded program that is designed to restore and replace existing assets. As the collection system expands, it also grows older. Established in 1958 the District now has over 500 miles of pipe, 50 pump stations, and 750 STEP systems. Each of these individual assets (e.g. manholes, pipes, pumps) will ultimately need to be repaired, restored, and eventually replaced. This represents a significant future liability for our rate payers. As such, the District continues to be committed to proactively managing an R&R program. Using a number of different tools, such as cMMS and GIS systems, the District has developed a unique program to identify and prioritize R&R projects. Thus managing the cost of the program over time and minimizing the risk for our customers.
The District is intent on being an active partner in the community to protect our water resources. Throughout our 40+ square mile service area there are roughly 6,000 existing septic systems. As these systems age, they can fail. And failing or improperly functioning on-site septic systems represent a significant risk or threat to the natural environment. The District’s SEP program was developed in 2008 to assist neighborhoods in providing public sewer service to areas currently served by on-site systems. By extending public sewer, we are allowing for the abandonment of the septic systems and reducing the long term threat to our environment. Participation in the program, e.g. hooking up to the sewer, remains voluntary.
The SEP program is part of the annual capital program. The District has currently identified SEP project areas which include over 1,500 septic systems. Using an established set of criteria, the District prioritizes the individual SEP areas and identifies projects to be included for design and delivery through the capital program. SEP evaluation criteria include, but are not limited to: rate of failure, health risk(s) caused by failing on-site systems, environmental impact(s) of failing systems, and neighborhood support for sewer. The costs for construction of the sewers are assessed to the properties benefiting and receiving service. To learn more about the SEP program, please contact Steve Bacon via email or phone at 360-993-8811.
The District also has other programs available to assist with the construction of local facilities. Generally speaking, the eight-inch (8”) diameter sewer mains servicing individual neighborhoods. The District can support the extension of local service through either the Customer Generated Infrastructure (CGI) or District Installed Infrastructure (DII) programs. With both of these programs, the costs for the project are assessed to the properties benefitting from the sewer extension. When a benefitting property connects to sewer, they will pay the District for their fair share of the project, called a Local Facility Charge (LFC). The LFC is a separate charge and is in addition to the System Development Charge (SDC) or other permit fees.