City plans outreach effort on Eagle Harbor sewer repair project

Eagle Harbor’s sewer mains have a problem, and it will only get worse.

But the city is planning an intervention — one that will impact Winslow residents with neighborhood construction.

In May 2009, one of the sewer mains in Eagle Harbor along the beach near the ferry terminal failed. The pipe carries nearly 50 percent of the raw sewage from the downtown and surrounding area.

It wasn’t the first time, however. Another beach main along Wing Point has experienced four failures since 2003.

The ruptures prompted the city of Bainbridge Island’s public works department to take a look at all four of the beach mains in Eagle Harbor. What they found was concerning.

The pipes were installed in the 1970s, and over time have been found to be prone to corrosion from saltwater.

The pipes show significant pitting and an average loss of between 30 and 35 percent of wall thickness, according Lance Newkirk, director of public works for Bainbridge Island.

Newkirk said that the city hired a consultant to study the pipes, and the experts told the city that they should expect even more failures in the future.

The solution looming on the city’s horizon is a replacement of the beach mains, which is easier said than done.

Before making an official recommendation to fix the issues with the beach mains, the public works department wants the community to realize what the project will involve.

A workshop for the Eagle Harbor sewer beach mains replacement project has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, April 30 at city hall. The goal is to not only educate the island community about what the project will do, but to also get input from residents about construction impacts.

“The consultant had recommended a sequence of construction, now it is our opportunity to go to the community to say ‘These are our options and these are the plusses and minuses,’” Newkirk said.

“We want to hear from community before we make a final recommendation,” he said.

Newkirk said that the city hopes to balance the trade-off between fixing the pipes and the disturbances to the community. There will be traffic disruptions and most likely road closures.

Interruptions to power, sewer and water services are also possible.

“This is a multimillion dollar project,” Newkirk said. “These are our ratepayers and customers and we want to hear from them.”

“If there is construction in your neighborhood, we need to explain why,” he added.

The price tag on the project isn’t small. The bulk of the money for the replacement work will come from the state via a low-interest laon.

Of the recent $153 million approved for 58 projects around Washington,

$4.1 million will go to Bainbridge Island for the beach main project.

“Certain alternative methods of constructing this project may exceed that amount,” Newkirk said. “We will have to have additional conversation on how to fund that.”

Newkirk hopes that all the workshop will not only explain the project, but also give city officials the chance to hear community concerns.

“We want to make sure we have looked at all the concerns and we have looked at what the community may experience,” Newkirk said. “And that they understand the trade-offs.”

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