Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kidney Island's "Sewer to Nowhere"

TMI for folks who are tired of hearing Mollie whine about poop!

Mollie writes:

I am not really sure how this all came about. I really didn't give a hoot about poop until I had kids, and now, thirty years later, I'm still awash in it.

For the casual reader, I'm a 58 year old diva whose children are grown. I always knew there was a life after active, hands-on motherhood, but I never realized it was the same-old same-old.

We start by cleaning up waste our babies and toddlers produce and move on to cleaning up after their pets. And just about the time the kids are on their own, and the parakeets, hedgehogs, love birds, finches, dogs and other living reminders of our kids' childhood have passed on to that big off-leash park in the sky, along comes retirement.

I'd promised myself that I'd immerse myself in sewing, crocheting, gardening, reading and napping. Well, that just hasn't happened yet. And it's been 6 years! We moved to an island in Puget Sound to get away from the rat race, and found out that we would only trade one set of fears for another.

Dealing with human waste is at the top of the block right now on the South End of Kidney Island. EVERYBODY has an opinion. and each opinion is unique, with its own DNA. In a nutshell, we all have "to go" somewhere, and where our waste "goes" is a hot topic these days.

Locally, we have a small human population (don't ask me about the deer, bunnies and those g*********g sea otters) and no sewer system. As a result, each of us, either alone, or in partnership with neighbors, have our own septic systems. Gracing our back yard is a state-of- the-art septic system complete with tanks for solid waste, liquid waste, and a series of pumps that sends our liquid waste into our drainfield, located in our front yard. Our solids are stored in a tank that gets pumped periodically into a poop-mobile, and transferred to a sewage treatment plant on the island. You'd think that that would be enough.

All of us are concerned about water contamination. And since some people have solid waste tanks that may be aging and ultimately subject to leaking, concern is reasonable. But some folks' solution to the problem defies rational thought.

Some of us want to install a sorta-sewage system on our area of the island. I call it 'sorta' because this plan calls for treatment ONLY of liquid waste. Solid waste would be handled as before, in our personal tanks, pumped into the "poop-mobile" and hauled off for treatment elsewhere. Our liquid waste would be pumped into a 'treatment center" where the liquids would be "purified" with some chemical (sodium chloride?) and then sprayed on to the local vegetation.

So nothing would be different other than the addition of chemicals to the liquids and the distribution of it into the eco-system. There would be NO changes with solid waste treatment - and this is where some of the bad-guys (human fecal coliform) are present.

But wait, there's more! Conservative estimates for this "non-sewage" treatment plant have come in at 40,000.000.00. AND there are only 400+ tax lots in the service area. Simple math results into property assessments at approximately $95,000.00 minimum.

Where I come from, that's a lot of bucks. And if you are like some of my neighbors, that assessment would send them into bankruptcy. But a majority our fearless commissioners have a plan for that, federal grants for "low income" folks.

Federal grants for this projects have been applied for and turned down in the past And with the recent budget crisis (both in Washington State AND Washington DC), some of us evil money crunchers suspect that Gregoire and Obama won't be giving us any money any time soon for a "sewer system" that doesn't do hard waste.

Nobody wants a "Sewer to Nowhere." But that's what we'll be getting for our individual $95,000.00 buckaroos (and change).

Never let it be said that retirement will be boring. Never let it be said that you stop worrying about "stuff" once your kids are gone.

We've managed to recycle it.


  1. The Ten Commandments of a Unified Freeland Sewer District

    There is one any only one sewer system.
    I will do no harm to the environment.
    I will not lie about the cost or benefits of any project.
    I will use any existing resource to its fullest extent.
    I will not covet my neighbor’s property and tax them off it.
    I will not kill the community through burdensome taxes.
    I will spread the cost of any project fairly across all property owners.
    I will deliver the required service at the lowest cost.
    I will honor the seniors within our community.
    I will leave no poop behind.


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