Washougal awarded $966K for wastewater treatment project

Federal funding part of $21.4M package Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez secured for SW Washington communities

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The city of Washougal has received another infusion from the federal government to help build its wastewater treatment plant biosolids handling facility and decommission its wastewater treatment plant lagoon.

The $966,000 award is part of a $21.4 million funding package secured earlier this month by Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez for 15 community projects across Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

The funding was included in the first package of 2024 spending bills signed into law by President Joseph Biden on March 9.

“The mandated enhancements at our treatment plant are costly, and the burden falls on all our residents and businesses. This funding is making a positive difference, helping us to mitigate the impact of this project on our sewer utility rates,” said Washougal Mayor David Stuebe. “When we reached out to the congresswoman about this project, she was very responsive, including doing a site visit to become informed first-hand. We will be under construction this year, and this funding is an important part of paying for this project.”

The project “is an appropriate use of taxpayer funds,” according to Gluesenkamp Perez.

“This new phase will serve to improve operation and achieve the highest efficiency in the release of treated effluent,” she wrote in a funding request letter. “In addition to enhancing the water quality of treated effluent and improving operation and achieving the highest efficiency in the release of treated effluent, when all components of the project are completed, the required improvements will double the capacity of the treatment plant, providing for future growth and economic development of the Port of Camas-Washougal and the City and helping alleviate concern over utility rates for residents of Washougal and the business community.”

The Washougal City Council approved a $26 million construction agreement with Woodland-based Stellar J Corp., Monday, March 12.

Stellar J “will mobilize in about 45 to 60 days,” according to Washougal’s public works director, Trevor Evers, who added that construction will take about a year and a half.

“Our engineer estimate for this project was $27.5 million,” Evers said during a Washougal City Council workshop, Monday, March 12. “We received four bids, all very competitive. For this scale of project in complexity, these are rather tight numbers. The other three bids, (ranging from) $26 million to $28.6 million, were really competitive for a project of this nature.”

The City’s current biosolids management strategy relies on the storage and treatment of biosolids within four large sewage lagoons that encompass more than 12 acres at the City’s wastewater treatment plant, Evers said.

The project will construct a facility that will turn solid waste generated from the City’s wastewater treatment process into land-applied, Class-B fertilizer via an aerobic digester. Once the treatment plant is running, the City will decommission its existing lagoon storage system, according to Evers.

“We are touching up against (the capacity limits) on our National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, and that’s going to restrict our future development,” Evers said. “We’re also emitting too much hydrogen sulfide in our networks at the wastewater treatment plant, which needs to be addressed.”

The City plans to pay for the $34.5 million project with $11 million from its wastewater fund, $21.6 million from a Washington State Department of Ecology Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan and $1.9 million in federal loans, which includes the most recent federal award.

In a news release announcing the community funding projects, Gluesenkamp Perez said she believes the federal funding will ”make an incredible difference in communities across Southwest Washington.”

“From strengthening clean water systems that keep folks healthy, to building infrastructure farmers and fishermen rely on, to getting the equipment necessary for rural public safety and trades programs – these investments are the nuts and bolts of how government can serve the people,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “These spending bills took long enough, but it shows what can be accomplished when Congress puts patriotism over partisanship to focus on working families. While I’m glad I could bring this funding home, I’m incredibly grateful for the folks across Southwest Washington who will be putting in the legwork in the coming months to put these dollars to good use for the sake of their communities.”