Classical music wafted over the sun-drenched meeting room of the Wing Point Golf & Country Club Monday evening as residents of that island neighborhood clasped glasses of Chardonnay and brand-name handbags to discuss the equally glamorous topic of sewage.
When, in 2009, a sewer main on the beach of Eagle Harbor burst and spewed 460,000 gallons of raw sewage into Puget Sound, city workers scrambled to address the problem and prevent future ruptures of the piping along the beach.
At the public workshop earlier this week, preliminary designs for the sewer main rehabilitation project were unveiled to the delight and disquietude of the roughly 40 civic-minded folk in attendance.
Larry Ward, the project manager, presented 30-percent design mockups, what he described as “how we get from Point A to Point B.”
“We looked at several alternatives,” Ward said, and added that the city was “always trying to look at what would be the least cost to our ratepayers.”
The current design for the project, which is estimated to cost $4 million, is an open cut construction method, where plastic pipes will run along the existing iron ones that are corroding due to the high acidity of the soil.
The new pipes will run along the beach from the wastewater treatment plant and pump station. The city is currently in the process of acquiring numerous federal, state and local permits.
At the meeting, Ward beseeched locals to be cooperative during the impending construction, which is slated for the summer of 2014.
“If for some reason someone decides that they don’t want us to be able to construct on their property — it only takes one person to really throw us into a tizzy,” Ward said.
Ward said construction would be halted in the evening so shoreline homeowners would be able to access the beach.
“I’m really hoping to build this project in 2014. I really do, because I’m not going to be here in 2015. I’ll be retired,” he said.
At the question-and-answer session following the meeting, Dale Perry, board president of the Wing Point Community, said the neighborhood had asked earlier about the cross-sectional look of the road that had been offered by the city earlier, and asked why or why not water power and the sewer couldn’t fit into the road.
“We’ve heard that this water (line) right through here is suspect and probably needs to be replaced,” Perry said, pointing to a map of the beach.
“A few of us are concerned that this has never been looked at from a synergistic point of view, and say, ‘Why not bother everybody one time and be done with it?’ So that’s the question.” he added
Engineering manager Chris Hammer said space was limited.
“As far as the right of ways we have, and being able to fit all the utilities that we have in that right of way, it would be challenging,” he said.
Islanders also expressed concern over the location of the pump station, situated near the tip of Wing Point. One noted that during the “king tides” in December, water was six inches from reaching the station, and another audience member asked Ward what was planned for increasing tides due to global climate change.
Ward said the new plastic pipes would have a life expectancy of 90 to 100 years.
“A lot of things can happen in 100 years,” Ward said.
A construction representative said the costs of moving the pump station roughly 100 feet were examined, but the costs were prohibitive.