City of North Bend Celebrates Completion of Wastewater Treatment Plant High-Priority Improvements

Ribbon-Cutting Event Marks Major Milestone for Infrastructure and Community Health

On June 17, the City of North Bend celebrated the completion of its largest-ever capital project, the Wastewater Treatment Plant High Priority Improvements.

This significant infrastructure investment, crucial for supporting the health and well-being of residents, city staff, and the local environment, was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Former and current elected officials, city staff, the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce, the North Bend Downtown Foundation, Trane Technologies, the State Department of Enterprise Services, Gray and Osborne, and other project partners participated in the event.

Notable speakers included Public Works Director Mark Rigos, PE, City Engineer Don DeBerg, PE, City Administrator David Miller, Manager Jeff Leamon, State Representative Lisa Callan, former Councilmember Ross Loudenback, and Mayor Mary Miller.

“This is a momentous day for North Bend – not only for our residents, nonprofit organizations, and business owners, but also for the Snoqualmie River, the wildlife that lives amongst it, and for city staff, the frontline workers who are here every day maintaining this essential piece of infrastructure,” commented Mayor Miller.

The $38 million project was funded through General Facility Charges, revenue bonds, and contributions from rate-paying residents. “This investment by our taxpayers is incredibly valuable. Without trust and involvement in our local government, we could never bring to fruition an upgrade of this magnitude,” added Mayor Miller.

Key improvements to the wastewater treatment facility include a new headworks, a second oxidation ditch, two clarifiers, a new UV/electrical building, a new aerobic digester, a new screw press, safety improvements, and extensive underground piping.

These enhancements modernize the facility and increase its capacity to accommodate the Meadowbrook Sewer Utility Local Improvement District (ULID), which aims to expand public sewer access in the city’s western portion.

Approximately 80 percent of North Bend residents are currently connected to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), with about 20 percent still relying on private septic systems. Public Works Director Mark Rigos acknowledged the hard work of many project partners, city officials, and staff, highlighting their efforts in achieving significant cost savings of about $20 million.

The city plans to commence frontage improvements along Bendigo Blvd/Highway 202 by 2026 after installing and connecting the Meadowbrook Sewer ULID pipe.

The WWTP is now home to aquariums, including a 125-gallon tank housing 30 trout and some goldfish. Plant Operator Craig Jess is excited to see the trout grow in the clean, treated effluent. Once the trout outgrow their current habitat, they will be relocated to an alpine lake and replaced with new fish.

The journey to this celebration began in late 2014 with nearly $3 million in emergency repairs at the aging WWTP near Bendigo Blvd/SR 202 by the South Fork Snoqualmie River. Years of deferred upgrades had caught up with the 1950s-era plant, prompting a comprehensive study in 2015 to determine necessary long-term improvements.

In 2016, it was decided that a $35 million investment was required to bring the plant up to current safety and environmental standards, adding redundancy and capacity. The city’s sewer utility, a self-supported enterprise fund, relied on sewer rates and General Facility Charges (GFCs) for funding.

Following multiple public meetings, a new 5-year sewer rate schedule was implemented in late 2016 to fund Phase 1 plant upgrades and related costs. The rate increase was approximately 9% on average.

As of March 2021, Phase 1 was nearly complete, and Phase 2 was 50% designed. A new sewer rate study was commissioned to fund Phase 2 improvements, with a multi-year rate schedule increasing sewer rates by approximately 2.5% per year from 2022 to 2025.

In May 2021, the City Council approved a contract with Trane for Phase 2. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2021 and be completed by 2024. See the Wastewater Treatment Plant HPI Phase 2 Site Map here.

For those interested in learning more about local wastewater treatment, stay tuned for opportunities to tour the WWTP. More information about the High Priority Improvements Project can be found on North Bend’s WWTP HPI Project Page.

[Featured Image: WWTP aquariums]

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