At its May 18th meeting, the North Bend City Council reached a historic milestone, approving the contract for Phase 2 of the important Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) High Priority Improvements (HPI) Project, which will complete the estimated $35 million, multi-year project for which planning began seven years ago.
When an April 2014 flood event caused the 1950s era WWTP to fail to meet effluent permit requirements for several days, it became apparent that decades of deferred improvements/upgrades had caught up with the antiquated facility. There could be no more ‘kicking the can down the road.’
$1.5 million in emergency repairs were authorized in 2014 and an in-depth study was launched to determine the best course of action to improve the WWTP: either build a new plant or renovate the current facility.
In 2016 the renovation option was selected by Council. This option provided needed upgrades without the higher cost of a full rebuild. Thus began the process of bringing North Bend’s Wastewater Treatment Plant into the 21st century to serve all residents – including those on septic who wish to switch to sewer in the future, meet strict State safety and environmental discharge requirements, and to accommodate commercial growth – a key component for the City’s fiscal stability.
With limited capacity remaining in the WWTP, five years ago, councilmembers made the bold decision to reserve that remaining capacity for commercial development – to continue working toward the goal of attracting quality businesses to North Bend that will provide living-wage jobs and needed services to residents.
WWTP Phase 2 will increase redundancy, make additional safety and environmental upgrades and add capacity for the City’s future commercial and residential growth. With Phase 1 nearly complete and Phase 2 50% designed, contractors will continue working at the plant site until the project is finished – expected in 2023.
The WWTP HPI Project is a critical component to North Bend’s future. The new, state-of-the-art facility will reliably serve customers for decades to come; allow the option for all residents currently on septic to hook up to sewer; better protect the Snoqualmie River; increase employee safety; improve energy efficiency; reduce odor; provide capacity for new commercial projects that create jobs, bring in additional tourism, and diversify the City’s economic base.
City Administrator David Miller commented, “This was a solid investment to ensure managed, responsible growth occurs in North Bend. I am proud of our Council and staff for meeting this daunting challenge. Our sewer plant is over 70 years old with deferred maintenance and challenges to meet the ever-increasing discharge standards. This is a firm commitment to our City’s brand statement to ensure environmental quality for years to come.”