The historic town of Port Gamble is about to get a new-fangled
sewage-treatment plant, one that will allow highly treated effluent
to recharge the groundwater in North Kitsap.
The old treatment plant discharges its effluent into Hood Canal,
causing the closure of about 90 acres of shellfish beds. After the
new plant is in operation, those shellfish beds are likely to be
reopened, officials say.
The new facility will be built and operated by Kitsap Public Utility
District, which owns and manages small water systems throughout
the county. The Port Gamble plant will be the first wastewater
operation to be managed by the KPUD, which views the project as a
step toward reclaiming more of Kitsap County’s wastewater by
putting it to beneficial use, said manager Bob Hunter.
The PUD already manages the Port Gamble water system, which will
undergo a future renovation, he said. Dealing with the community’s
sewage is the next logical step.
“Nobody can do reclaimed water without the sewage-treatment part
of the equation,” Bob told me, “and it seems potentially more
efficient to have one entity do it.”
In a related development, the district is expected to ask Kitsap
County voters for authority to own the plant as well as operate it.
Under its current authority, the district can own water utilities
but not sewer utilities.
A $2-million state grant to eliminate the discharge of sewage
into Hood Canal requires that a public entity own the sewer system.
To comply with that requirement, Mason County PUD 1 will take over
ownership until Kitsap PUD obtains the needed authority, Bob
The KPUD commissioners are expected to decide on Tuesday whether
to place a measure on November’s ballot. Hunter said he doesn’t
expect opposition, but he hopes to address any concerns people may
have. The commissioners meet at 9:30 a.m. in their Poulsbo
The new treatment plant will be a membrane bioreactor, a type of
filtering system capable of producing effluent close to the quality
of drinking water. The plant, which comes assembled, will treat up
to 100,000 gallons of sewage per day. That’s enough capacity to
serve the existing homes in Port Gamble. And if the town’s
redevelopment is approved
(Kitsap Sun, Jan. 24, 2013), as proposed by owner Pope
Resources, the plant could serve up to 350 homes — provided the old
sewer pipes are replaced to reduce the amount of stormwater that
The plant will be located on 1.3 acres near Carver Drive, south
of Highway 104. Effluent will be pumped to a new drainfield at the
top of a nearby hill. Eventually, water from the plant could be
used to irrigate forestland or else lawns and ballfields in the
Construction is expected to get underway soon, with the system
operational by May of next year. The entire project, including the
treatment plant, pumping system, pipes, drainfield and site work,
is expected to cost $5 million with most of the cost paid by Pope
The KPUD has no plans to operate other sewer systems at this
time, Hunter said, but the district hopes to be in a position to
respond to community needs, as it as done with failing water
systems. Small sewage-treatment plants could be feasible where a
lot of septic systems are failing, he noted, but state law
precludes the use of sewers in rural areas except during a health
emergency. Even then, the systems must serve only existing needs,
not future growth, he noted.
Without snowpack, Kitsap Peninsula is entirely dependent on the
amount of rain that falls on the peninsula. With limited storage,
future water supplies can be bolstered by recharging the
groundwater with high-quality sewage effluent or by using effluent
to replace drinking water used for irrigation and industrial
The Central Kitsap Wastewater Treatment Plant, which produces an
average 3.2 million gallons of water each day, is undergoing a
major upgrade to produce water that can be used for a variety of
uses in nearby Silverdale. In preparation, Silverdale Water
District has been installing a new piping network to bring the
reclaimed water into the community.
“We have been talking for a long time about getting water into
the ground instead of dumping it into Puget Sound or Hood Canal,”
said Bob Hunter. “With this project in Port Gamble, we can learn
and be prepared when other situations come along.”
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