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Environment
Environmentally friendly wastewater and water reclamation project celebrates one year of construction
After 52 weeks of active construction, the Belfair Wastewater and Water Reclamation Facilities Project is 70 percent complete, with full start-up expected by year-end

L-R Congressman Norm Dicks, Governor Christine Gregoire, unitified, Rep. Kathy HaighThese facilities are touted to be a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly alternative that protects Hood Canal water quality and quantities, while it meets Class A standards for future water reuse.

The treatment facility will employ a new, proven technology for treating and reclaiming (or recycling/reusing) wastewater called a membrane bioreactor (MBR) system using biological processes and microfilters. MBR technology will remove nitrogen content in sewage that currently exacerbates the canal’s dissolved oxygen problems and is also a sustainable approach to water management conservation as it achieves very high quality water… which can be reused.

Wastewater from homes and businesses is conveyed to the main sewer line, which transports sewage to a force main, which is used to move wastewater up the hill to the wastewater reclamation facility for treatment.

Water supply is unique to every location. Residents of the Kitsap Peninsula rely upon rainfall to surface water reservoirs, and from underground aquifers known as groundwater. The Puget Sound region experiences natural summer droughts where only 20 percent of the annual rainfall occurs from May to September.

A seemingly endless natural compound in the world, water supplies are running low. Humans already use approximately 54 percent of all accessible surface runoff and this may increase to 70 percent by 2025 (Postel, Daily & Ehrlich; Human Appropriation of Renewable Fresh Water; Science, 1996).

As the population increases; the limited supply of water lessens. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, while only 2.5 percent is available as fresh and potable with the rest being saltwater found in our Sound and oceans. Seventy four percent of freshwater is taken by glaciers and polar ice caps with 25 percent as groundwater, clouds and humidity in the soil, leaving just one percent accessible in our lakes, rivers and streams.

The Belfair Water Reclamation facility will treat water to “Class A” reclaimed water standards, which is used around the world for non-potable uses. In Washington State, reclaimed water can be used for irrigation (e.g., agriculture, golf courses, sports fields, etc.), Industrial processes (e.g., cleaning or cooling), Fire suppression (for fire flow and sprinklers), and in the natural environment for enhancing wetlands or stream flow augmentation.

By reducing demand from established water supplies — especially during the dry summer months as over 50 percent is used irrigating lawns and landscapes outdoors — this will help the Hood Canal environment and salmon by reusing water that would otherwise be pumped to outfalls and lost to the canal’s salty waters.

In addition to protecting the environment, with prices of municipal water rising and drought restrictions becoming more prevalent during the summer, reclaiming wastewater can save taxpayers money.

Project costs will come to over $40 million, including more than $30 million in combined grants or appropriations from Washington State Departments of Ecology and Commerce, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

While crews overcame weather challenges, unexpected contaminated soils and lengthy night work to keep the project on schedule, at this one-year landmark, the project has:

  • Laid more than 26,000 feet of conveyance lines
  • Poured 2,000 tons of concrete at the water reclamation facility
  • Installed more than 225 tons of rebar
  • Employed three construction crews of 10 for more than 60,000 hours since the project started
  • Supported approximately 35 Full Time Employees monthly through project-related activities, including construction, engineering and community outreach
  • Removed 2,400 tons of contaminated soil
  • Opened and restored 16,000 feet of roadway

Side sewer connections for property owners will be the next big phase of the project and coordination continues to ensure that they are aware of the connection process and requirements. Side sewer stubs have been installed from the main conveyance line, but property owners will be responsible for the costs to construct their side sewers.

The county continues to pursue additional grants and loans through the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Housing & Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program (managed by the State Department of Commerce) to support property owner’s costs of connecting to the system.

Interested parties can join the mailing list by emailing info [at] masoncountywastewater [dot] com or by visiting the project website at www.masoncountywastewater.com.

For other inquiries and information, please contact the Belfair Wastewater and Water Reclamation Facilities Hotline at 360-801-2482.

 
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Kathleen Byrne-Barrantes's picture
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