Project is for the good of the order | Editorial

Be patient.

That’s the best advice we can give businesses and residents who will soon be affected by the construction of the new sewer line that will wind from the harbor, through downtown to the wastewater treatment plant.

As the story says on page 1A of Wednesday’s Journal, construction began Monday on the upland portion of the sewer line project. Formerly, waterfront properties in the harbor area drained or flushed into a cast-iron sewer pipe that lay underwater. But sections of that pipe, weakened by rust, broke and either leaked sewage into the harbor or allowed saltwater to get into the wastewater treatment plant, adversely affecting treatment.

The town was threatened by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance with a lawsuit for violating the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, the group backed off, preferring the town spend its money on fixing the problem than on paying legal fees.

The state Department of Ecology agreed to help fund the sewer line replacement with grants and low-interest loans, as long as the sewer line was moved out of the water. Good news: The grants and low-interest loans came through. The winning project bid was $1.6 million less than the engineer’s estimate. And the project is expected to be finished in mid-November, rather than spring as earlier projected.

So, in the end, we will have an improved system that works well, will last a long time, and is safe for the environment. Those are good things. Unfortunately, sewer rates will go up from $79.64 to $87.81 a month; that’s going to hurt a lot of people. We hope that once this project is behind us, the Town Council will resume looking for ways to ease the burden on already-overburdened ratepayers.