Pierce County prepares for $305M wastewater treatment plant upgrade

Work is under way on a project that will limit wastewater discharge into Puget Sound, stay ahead of anticipated environmental requirements and accommodate future growth, according to Pierce County officials. All of that will be accomplished through a $305 million project to expand and improve the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in University Place.

Upgrades are designed to meet county growth needs through 2025 but will be built to accommodate future expansion scenarios through 2040. Without expansion, the plant would reach its treatment capacity by 2016. All components of the existing wastewater treatment plant will be upgraded, some of which date to the early 1980s. Earth moving to prepare the site started in July 2010. Design work is underway, with construction expected to start in 2012.

The improvements will include new treatment technology for enhanced nitrogen removal; increased odor control; expansion of the biosolids processing system that produces SoundGRO fertilizer; expanded disinfection capacity and new processing equipment; and new laboratory, operations, maintenance and warehouse facilities. Project funding comes from a combination of monthly sewer fees, connection charges and grants. A $62 million bond issue, the first of three needed to finance the project, was authorized by the Pierce County Council in August 2010.

Pierce County’s Sewer Utility provides wastewater management, collection and treatment services to about 252,000 customers that generate an average of 19 million gallons of wastewater per day. By 2020, the volume of wastewater is expected to reach 28 million gallons per day, increasing to 42 million by 2040. The sewer system serves a 117-square-mile area that includes University Place, Lakewood, DuPont, Steilacoom and a portion of Tacoma. It also serves the unincorporated communities of Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, South Hill and Frederickson.

For more information, visit http://www.piercecountywa.org/sewerexpansion .

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I. Report details ‘lucky’ worker’s rescue from sewer tunnel (03/25/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1947958&more=0

II. Pierce County contractor rescued after 3,500-foot slide through sewage system (03/21/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1944709&more=0

III. $62M bond sale funds Pierce County sewer system upgrades (08/04/10)

Pierce County is preparing to issue $62 million in bonds to pay for sewer system improvements that preserve existing systems while preparing for future growth.

The Pierce County Council voted unanimously yesterday to authorize the sale of the bonds. The Council must take a separate vote this fall to accept a bid on the bonds. Proceeds from the bond sale will support a variety of improvements at the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, including expanding the sewer plant to allow for more growth; improving the wastewater treatment process to ensure clean water is discharged; and replacing larger pipes and equipment to maintain the system and ensure it is working properly.

These improvements are part of Pierce County’s 6-year Sewer Improvement Program. Of the $62 million, $50 million will be used for the construction projects and $8 million will be used to repay an existing bond at a lower interest rate. Approximately $4 million will be held in reserve as required by the bondholders.

Pierce County’s Sewer Utility provides wastewater management, collection and treatment services to large urban areas of the county. To deliver these services, Pierce County owns and operates assets that include a network of underground pipelines, pump stations, maintenance manholes and the Chambers Creek plant.

More information is available at piercecountywa.org/sewer.

Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. (PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)