Ridgefield plans to add sewer capacity

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 

One of Washington's fastest-growing cities will add capacity to its sewer system to keep development rolling.

Ridgefield has approved an agreement with the Clark Regional Wastewater District that will transfer the city's sewer system to the larger utility.

The move ensures the city's sewer system can withstand future capacity, district officials say, without its small customer base shouldering the cost of improvements to Ridgefield's existing treatment plant.

"The way to make this more cost-effective and not make the rates too high is (for Ridgefield) to join with an existing customer base," said Heidi Rosenberg, capital program manager for Clark Regional Wastewater District. "By joining with a much larger organization, there are more customers to divide the costs along."

The wastewater district serves 27,000 customers across 40 square miles, including much of Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek and Felida.

The city will connect itself to the district's system, the Salmon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, through a pressurized pipeline.

Money for the $25 million project will come from two $10 million low-interest loans from the Washington State Public Works Trust Fund. The rest of the money will come from local capital program funds.

The agreement, two years in the works, happened because upgrading Ridgefield's sewer collection system and treatment plant would have been costly, the city says, resulting in significant rate increases to the city's 1,800 customers.

Those customers have been growing in numbers.

The city of 5,545 is among the state's five fastest-growing.

Ridgefield has high hopes for future development, with the city's Interstate 5 junction zoned to accommodate commercial and industrial development.

Revenue from the future development is expected to increase as the sewer infrastructure expands, district officials say.

"By joining with a much larger organization," said Rosenberg, "there are more customers to divide the costs among."

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities;tyler.graf@columbian.com