The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Town seeks solution to sewer plant problem


Town of Cathlamet officials may well wonder when work on their new waste water treatment plant will be completed.

On Monday, they voted to declare the project contract completed and release the contractor retainage bond.

However, the plant's drying beds are overflowing, forcing the town to contract with the City of Aberdeen to process incompletely processed biosolids.

Basically, the long wet winter prevented the drying beds from working as intended, Jon Hinton of the consulting engineering firm Gray and Osborne explained to the council. Theoretically, the beds collect biosolids during the winter and start drying in the spring, he said. The wet spring prevented that from happening.

Hinton said the plant's design was quite similar to a plant in the town of Pe Ell, but the drying beds weren't working as efficiently as Pe Ell's, perhaps because of a wetter climate.

Hinton said he and the firm would work with the public works department to address the situation.

Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank said they'll speed up drying by applying polymers that will bind to particles in effluent. Then water can be separated from the sludge.

The department can also purchase a machine that can be used to turn the sludge in the drying beds and speed up drying.

The council authorized Hinton to seek formal permission from the US Department of Agriculture, which helped fund the project, to use the $60,000 in unspent grant funds on further improvements.

The situation has annoyed some town officials.

"I do want you to let Gray and Osborne know that I'm very unhappy," said Mayor Dale Jacobson. "The plant cost $11 million, and we're paying a $6 million share.

"The idea that we keep raising rates because it doesn't work right really gets my goat."

Hinton agreed that the situation was aggravating and said he and the firm would do all they can to resolve it.


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