State takes 3 years to move on wastewater plan
November 5, 2020
PALOUSE - The state took three years to move on a plan to pump wastewater to lagoons on top of a hill in Palouse to clean river water.
“While we are relieved to bring an end to the long discussion and debate with Ecology regarding our wastewater plan, we are equally anxious to move forward with a reasonable and prudent mindset that minimizes the burden of debt to city and cost to our individual citizens,” said Chris Cook, Palouse mayor.
The City of Palouse nears approval from the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) on a final plan to build lagoons on the hill south of town to cut inorganic nitrates from being discharged into the Palouse River and lowering its temperature.
The plan was first proposed in 2017. It calls for construction of seasonal storage lagoons on 20 acres of city-owned land by either cutting into the hillside or breaking ground on top of the hill near the solar panels. The city may also have to buy land.
During times of the year with low-river flow, treated wastewater would be pumped up the hill to the lagoons, then pumped back to the wastewater plant from late October to April, to be treated again and discharged into the river.
Construction is expected to start in 2023.
“We would’ve liked to have this approval in hand three years ago,” said Kyle Dixon, city administrator. “We’ve been robbed of about three years of planning.”
The process to meet the new DOE requirements first began in 2015.
“We’re really glad they’re at a place to move forward,” said Joye Redfield-Wilder, spokesperson for DOE.
In March, after six proposals stemming from a series of meetings and changed-parameters, Palouse submitted its 200-page plan.
The DOE responded in late summer with minor adjustments.
“We’re confident that the plan will be approved by Dec. 15 of this year,” said Redfield-Wilder.
With approval in hand, the Palouse project will move to the design and engineering phase, which the DOE awards funding in January.
Palouse will seek about $2 million.
“We’re looking at $12-18 million before this is all said and done,” said Dixon.
The deadline for the new system to be in place is July 2024.