Over the past month there have been many discussions and developments on the wastewater project.  In order to better communicate these and other updates summarized below, I decided to create this blog.  The goal is to provide more recent updates than once a month at city council meetings.  It is also to inform those that may not be able to attend the council meetings.  Please bear with us as we adjust to this new form of communication.

February 26th

Eric Hansen and Leana Johnson met with a pretreatment vendor and discussed alternative treatment methods at the city’s plant that could potentially cut construction costs.  There is a follow-up meeting with him and Kennedy Jenks on Thursday, March 22nd to discuss the actual construction costs and operations and maintenance costs.  The information will then be passed along to the Right Sizing committee to further evaluate this potential alternative.  He recommended we talk with the City of La Center as this technology was used in their more recent plant upgrades.

February 27th

There was a meeting with the Department of Ecology, High Strength Users and the city regarding pretreatment.  People present included: Greg Zentner, DOE; David Knight, DOE; Leana Johnson, City Staff; Scott Anderson, Mayor; Amy Weissfeld, Councilmember; Eric Hansen, City Staff; Ben Shumaker, City Staff; Bruce Nissen, LDB; Steve Funk, LDB; James Landers, Walking Man; Mary Repar, Citizen; Pat Albaugh, Port; Kari Fagerness, EDC; Steve Waters, Backwoods, Zacc Gielow, LDB.  There were multiple questions from the users and the city sent to Ecology before the meeting.

  • Will DOE allow all treatment at the WWTP? (meaning businesses won’t do any pretreatment)
    • The Ecology short answer was yes, as long as it is consistent with the city’s plan and doesn’t upset the plant:
      •  There need to be safeguards to protect the plant from slug loads.
      • The users still need to regulate the pH of the discharge.
    • The City would need to work with an engineer to determine what the load and flow limitations should be to protect the plant and collection system.
  • Could you elaborate on the Industrial Permit fee schedule? (the website says $500 and higher)
    • WAC 173.224.040 contains the fee schedule for the permit.  The users here would fall under the broad category of “facilities not otherwise classified”.

FY 2108                 FY 2019

  1. < 1,000 gpd                                         1,318.00               1,377.00
  2. 1,000 – < 10,000 gpd                        2,726.00               2,849.00
  3. 10,000 – < 50,000 gpd                     6,578.00               6,874.00
  4. 50,000 – < 100,000 gpd                  10,523.00             10,997.00
  5. 100,000 – < 500,000 gpd               21,040.00             21,987.00
  6. 500,000 – < 1,000,000 gpd           26,300.00             27,484.00
  7. 1,000,000 gpd and greater             39,456.00             41,232.00
  •  Do you know of other towns/businesses that have retrofitted existing buildings with pretreatment facilities?
    • Ecology mentioned the City of Vancouver has used a pretreatment lagoon since the 1980s for industrial users that is permitted with their treatment plant.
    • The other city mentioned was West Richland and they have an industrial pretreatment facility for existing wineries that was recently permitted.  (staff obtained a copy of a report created on the West Richland I-Plant).
  • Do you know of any analysis that has been performed that looks at pretreatment VS. affordability to businesses and residents?
    • No, they do not know of any analysis.
  • Is an Industrial Discharge Permit and User Survey required whether or not the City adopts a pretreatment ordinance?
    • A User Survey is required and is part of the city’s NPDES permit.  Any user that contributes over 5% of the treatment plant’s loadings is deemed a “Significant Industrial User” and would be required to apply for an Industrial Discharge Permit.  It would be up to Ecology and discussions with the city as to whether or not a permit would be required.  If a permit is not required, then the city would enter into a contract with the user that establishes their BOD and other discharge limitations.
  • If a municipality were to create a pretreatment facility for industrial users, would they still be required to obtain a permit, or would it be regulated under the City’s NPDES Permit?  If the Port ran the Facility?  If the facility were privately operated?
    • If the city were to construct a pretreatment facility, then it may operate under the city’s current NPDES permit.
    • If the facility were Port or privately ran, it would need its own NPDES permit.

Ecology also mentioned at the meeting that they would be open to extending the timeline with an explanation of the rationale behind the extra time needed.

At some point in the meeting there was a discussion about the efforts of the users to sidestream some of their waste to lower their numbers.  When the city retested during this time, the BOD numbers were still high, and in some cases higher than the initial round of testing.  Ecology did not have an answer to this as they would have expected to see some change.

February 27th

Eric Hansen, Ben Shumaker and Leana Johnson met with Councilmember Amy Weissfeld to debrief the meeting with DOE and the High Strength Users.  At that meeting, consensus was reached that the city will conduct a month-long testing of industry to obtain more information on their BOD contributions.

March 5th

The topic of a month-long testing was discussed at the department head meeting with the Mayor Scott Anderson.  In order to help resolve the conflict that exists over the BOD data, the Mayor suggested holding a meeting with the High Strength Users to get agreement on the testing protocol and the data.  Staff will wait to test until LDB has a new testing location installed in order to test all high strength users at the same time.  The expectation was that a meeting would take place in the next few weeks.

March 7th

A follow-up meeting with Department of Ecology and city staff (Ben Shumaker, Eric Hansen and Leana Johnson) took place to discuss time extensions in our current compliance schedule.  One request Ecology had was to have the city document the operations and maintenance procedure for the plant with the overloadings.  In other words, how will the city manage the current plant to maximize the treatment process over the next few years before the new plant is online?  They also recommended the city reach out to Carl Jones who works as a roving operator for DOE for additional guidance on optimizing the plant operations.

The city mentioned the possibility of changing the plant design.  Ecology’s response was that it would need to come through as a plan amendment and the city has until December 2019 for Ecology to approve a revised plan.  While they will entertain extensions to certain parts of the compliance schedule, they still expect the city to apply for construction funding in the fall of 2019.

March 8th

Ben Shumaker and Leana Johnson met with the Port, EDC and Rhys Roth with the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure to discuss the project and hear about the issue from the involved parties.  The group toured Backwoods Brewing, LDB and Walking Man to get a perspective on operations, connection to city sewer, testing port and wastewater impacts the organization may have within their process.  Rhys also discussed his involvement and what the outcome may be of a value planning effort.  While they have an Economic Development Assistance grant for some of this work, additional funds would be required for technical assistance.  A phone call is scheduled for Wednesday March 21st with DOE to see if the additional funds already applied for could be used for this effort.

March 9th

Eric Hansen, Leana Johnson and Councilmember Robert Muth toured the City of La Center wastewater treatment plant.  Their plant was completed in 2010 at a cost of $12.8M.  It was designed by Kennedy Jenks and utilizes a membrane bioreactor (MBR) system to treat its mostly residential sewage.  The plant is very clean and they are able to expand capacity through phase 2 by only adding additional MBR screens.  The water at the plant is recycled and used in the treatment process, requiring no water from the city water system.  Solids from the process are heated and dried to a Class A biosolid, which allows it to be used for any topical application as you would compost.  This would remove the cost of hauling solids, which the city paid about $5,000 per month for in 2017.  One challenge staff sees with this type of plant is that the La Center plant has very low BOD (in the 200s).  While they do experience higher flows with rain events, they have a fairly young sewer system and a low percentage of infiltration and inflow.  Stevenson would need to look at this option closely to ensure that it would be effective for our situation and variability with flow and BOD.

March 13th

Eric Hansen and Leana Johnson met with Apollo regarding a follow-up to the energy audit they are currently conducting.  They mentioned the possibility of installing solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant when it is upgraded to reduce the energy costs of the plant.  There would be grants available for that additional infrastructure to cover the costs.

March 13th

Eric Hansen, Leana Johnson and Ben Shumaker met with TetraTech to discuss a phone call they had with DOE after the city’s March 7th phone call with DOE.  Some topics discussed were identical to the message DOE provided to the city, such as an expectation for a construction funding application in the fall 2019 cycle.  They also mentioned possibly requiring an operations and maintenance audit in a revised administrative order as a way to optimize plant operations between now and when the plant upgrades are completed.  Additional items discussed included a willingness on the part of DOE to open up the discussion to delay the construction of a second aeration ditch.  This would be conditioned on at least the following items:

  1. Confirmation that the concrete for the existing ditch is in good shape.
  2. Recalculation of the plant loading capability and submit standard engineering calculations to DOE on the revised capacity.
  3. Documentation on the improvement of sludge settleability (sludge volume index data).
  4. Hire a level III Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator.

If the city is able to get DOE agreement on delaying a second aeration basin, the construction of the headworks would also be delayed for a total possible cost savings of $4M.

March 14th

Leana Johnson and Kari Fagerness attended a workshop for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding as one source of grant funds for the wastewater project.  The goal of the CDBG program is to benefit Low-Moderate Income (LMI) persons.  The city of Stevenson does not meet the requirements to be eligible for the funding, however we will be conducting an income survey for the project area to see if the smaller subset of the city would qualify for those funds.  This would need to be done by a third party to meet CDBG and other funding source survey requirements.

March 15th

Eric Hansen provided an update to council as to the events that took place between council meetings.  Councilmember Mark Peterson read a letter he wrote voicing his concerns about the wastewater project.  Council discussed their concerns about the project in depth and how they can be addressed.  Staff was directed to obtain a quote for the cost of inspecting all of the city’s sewer lines to get a scope of the infiltration and inflow problem.  Council also approved submittal of the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) grant application, with the understanding that the match funds will come from the city.  The CERB grant is for a feasibility study on pretreatment options for the High Strength Users.

March 20th

Ben Shumaker and Leana Johnson, along with Kari Fagerness, EDC; Pat Albaugh, Port; John Goodman, PUD; Amanda Hoey, MCEDD; Jessica Metta, MCEDD; and Bob Hamlin, Skamania County Commissioner, met with a representative from the Economic Development Administration and discussed a potential 80% grant funding opportunity for wastewater collection system improvements.