Dec. 1, 2003
Route 9 site chosen for Brightwater Treatment Plant
King County Executive Ron Sims today announced selection of a 114-acre site next to Route 9 near Woodinville
for the new Brightwater Treatment Plant to serve sewer customers in north King and south Snohomish counties for at least the next 50 years.
Sims also chose a 16-mile alignment on Northeast 195th Street and the Snohomish-King County line
for pipes and pump stations that connect Brightwater to a nearly 1-mile-long marine outfall at Point Wells west of Shoreline.
Government, community, business, civic and labor leaders from both counties joined Sims to describe
the environmental and economic need for Brightwater. Dignitaries unveiled a scale model of the preliminary site design,
which transforms an area now dominated by auto wrecking yards into a forest with streams, wetlands, trails, an environmental
learning center and new protections for nearby Little Bear Creek.
“Our growing region needs Brightwater,” Sims said. “Without it, we risk sewage spills and a
building moratorium that will hurt our economy.
“This decision is the culmination of 11 years of work in collaboration with our cities, sewer districts,
environmental groups and peers across the nation,” Sims said. “We have done the analysis and technical studies, and now we
must move forward with permitting and construction. This facility will also create jobs when the region needs them.
“The site is large — twice the size of the alternative,” Sims said. “It offers environmental benefits, efficient pipeline
routes and an excellent outfall location. There are more opportunities to provide reclaimed water near the treatment plant and along the pipelines.
Brightwater at Route 9 will be a flexible part of our regional wastewater system for the next 50 years.”
Sims chose the Route 9 site after a final environmental impact statement (EIS) was issued Nov. 19. The EIS
included more than 5,000 formal comments from 550 people, tribes and government agencies.
“We look back with thanks for the decision-makers who moved forward with a regional sewer system that
stopped the spread of disease and the pollution of Lake Washington and Puget Sound in the 1950s,” Sims said. “I believe future
generations will look back on today, and thank us for moving forward with Brightwater.”
Brightwater will be the most modern wastewater treatment plant in the nation with state-of-the-art
systems for treating wastewater, odor control, reclaimed water, and quality of effluent discharged into Puget Sound. About 20,000 jobs will
be created during the life of the project, including 6,000 construction trade union jobs. Construction will start in 2005 with the plant on line in 2010.
“Our economy needs Brightwater. I understand the local concerns, but the need overwhelms any of those concerns,” said Mike Sells, secretary treasurer, Snohomish County Labor Council, AFL/CIO. “Water, jobs and the economy don’t stop at the county line. The mitigation that King County has committed to tells us they are going to be a good neighbor.”
"The Snohomish County Economic Development Council is working to foster new businesses in Snohomish County,” said
council President Deborah Knutson. “New business means new jobs. They also need infrastructure — like wastewater treatment.
"We've got a growing biotech community that we want to 'Innovate Here,’” she said. “And Brightwater will fit right in — providing
needed infrastructure in innovative ways."
“The Master Builders Association fully supports the construction of the Brightwater project,” said Executive Officer Sam Anderson. “It is
essential to meet future demand for housing and commercial development in this region. Without the plant, King and Snohomish counties will not
be able to meet the demand for workforce housing required to compete for jobs in a global economy.
“More importantly,” he said, “failure to build the facility may require a moratorium on future residential and commercial construction,
plunging this region into another recession. Now that Executive Sims has chosen the site, we should get on with construction and make sure
the plant is online when we will need it.”
The preliminary Brightwater design, to be refined with the help of local communities, provides great environmental
benefits and public amenities while preserving and enhancing the rural character of the area:
King County will take extraordinary steps to prevent odors, protect drinking water supplies and ensure the plant
can withstand earthquakes. To give further assurances to the community, Sims noted King County is setting aside money to make
odor prevention improvements if needed in the future.
“We have hired one of the top odor control experts in the world and will build the best odor
control system in the United States,” Sims said. “Protecting air quality is as important to us as protecting water quality. Treatment processes
will be covered, and the air will be scrubbed four times before it is released. We are confident this will prevent odors. This is our promise as good neighbors.
“We will also protect the groundwater and drinking water supplies,” Sims said. “Our mission is to protect water quality,
not harm it. We have studied the worst -case scenarios and will use the best engineering and technologies available to protect people’s drinking water.”
Sims chose the 195th Street pipeline route because it provides a more direct route to the outfall and affects fewer
residential neighborhoods. The pipeline system will be 16 miles long, up to 21 feet in diameter and 40 to 455 feet deep. By building some pipelines
in two directions using the same tunnel alignment, King County will reduce construction costs and limit impacts on neighborhoods, businesses and traffic.
“We will use art and good design to make permanent structures along the pipeline blend in with the communities,” Sims said. “And
we will prevent odors from those structures.”
Extensive marine current studies show the Point Wells outfall location provides excellent ocean currents for mixing. The
site offers a construction staging area on land and limits disturbances of eelgrass during construction. Eelgrass is important salmon
habitat. The outfall will be over a mile long and 500 feet deep.
Puget Sound will be further protected by use of biomembrane technology at the treatment plant. The technology, which
has long been used to purify drinking water, produces effluent 75 percent cleaner than that from traditional secondary treatment used at King County’s two other
regional treatment plants.
The Brightwater design team is world-renowned. Hargreaves Associates, which is leading Brightwater site planning and landscape
architecture, was recently selected to lead rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York. Earlier work includes the Sydney, Australia, Olympics and
the Lisbon, Portugal, World Exposition.
Mithun, a local architecture firm and international leader in environmentally sustainable architecture, is designing Brightwater.
Recent projects include the Islandwood Environmental Learning Center on Bainbridge Island and all the REI stores in the United States and abroad.
Brightwater will be designed according to King County’s Green Building Initiative. Designers will strive to meet
the national LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard for commercial buildings even though Brightwater is an industrial facility.
Brightwater design will have natural and other environmentally friendly systems for heating, cooling, lighting, use of recycled materials, and sod roofs where possible.
For digging the conveyance tunnel, Sims also chose five construction access portals along the tunnel alignment — in North Creek, north and south Kenmore, next to Ballinger Way, and at Point Wells.
“At Route 9, we have an opportunity to meet our regional need for a new wastewater system and enhance the quality of life
in the local area,” Sims said. “We will take auto yards and turn them into a state-of-the art wastewater facility with natural landscaping. We will protect existing
natural spaces from development, create places for education and community needs, and improve water quality in the region and in Little Bear Creek.
“This is an important decision that is the foundation for water quality for the future,” Sims said. “It is a difficult decision, but
I feel energized and confident that together we will make it work.”
Joining Sims in the announcement were Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel; Jim Ellis, the civic leader who led creation
of the Metro wastewater treatment system almost 50 years ago; David Toyer, Snohomish County manager, Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish
Counties; Mike Sells, secretary-treasurer of the Snohomish County Labor Council; and Deborah Knutson, president of the Snohomish
County Economic Development Council.
Other guests included Bob Kildall, a Magnolia resident who organized his neighbors and helped transform the existing West
Point sewage treatment plant into a community amenity.
“As a responsible elected official, I must make this decision now," Sims said. “Decisions like this are not easy. But
it is the job of local government to plan and build the facilities we need to protect our environment and our economy.
“I refuse to allow a situation like those in other states,” he continued. “Right now, the City of Atlanta faces a federal
intervention to stop sewage spills from an aging and inadequate sewer system that local leaders have let deteriorate.
“It is my responsibility to our service area in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties and to future generations to make
this decision now, before we face such conditions in our region,” Sims said. “There is too much at stake to wait.”
Sims stressed, however, that he did not make this decision alone. Since the Brightwater siting process began in 1999 — and even
before it during the Regional Wastewater Services Plan process — King County engaged elected leaders from all its wastewater customers, state agencies,
tribal governments, environmental groups, business leaders and community members in all facets of planning and decision-making on Brightwater.
“Many of them have spent countless hours developing and reviewing criteria and evaluating the issues,” Sims said. “Their
commitment to this process has been invaluable.”
Sims also noted that his decision is not the “final” decision for Brightwater.
“We are bringing $88 million in mitigation to the table,” Sims said. “Beginning next year, we will be talking with
communities about mitigation funding, treatment plant design and conveyance portals.
Throughout design, permitting, construction, and beyond, King County and local jurisdictions will be deciding how the
project will be designed and built to be a good neighbor. Local jurisdictions will help determine appropriate mitigation through the permitting process.
King County has also been working with the state Department of Transportation to coordinate construction activities for the
Brightwater project with the State Route 9 widening project. Currently, the preferred alternative to mitigate traffic impacts is to build a separate construction
entrance at the southern portion of the Brightwater site and allow the state DOT to use the Brightwater site for construction staging. This plan would minimize
traffic impacts of concurrent construction of the projects.
In addition, King County will work with the state to accommodate additional easements or land needed for the widening project
in the site design for Brightwater. King County and the state DOT will continue to work together to coordinate permitting, utility relocation,
public involvement, timing of construction activities, and other mitigation as may be required.
King County's Wastewater Treatment Division protects public health and water quality by serving 18 cities, 15 sewer
districts and more than 1.4 million residents in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
Updated: Dec. 2, 2003
- Seventy acres of roads and parking lots will be reduced to 8.6 acres.
- Trees and shrubs will increase to 95 acres from 37 acres.
- Wetlands will more than double to 11 acres from 5 acres.
- Most of the creeks now running underground in pipes will be daylighted to increase the total to 4,061 linear feet from 2,665 linear feet.
- Local teachers envision an environmental educational center on-site that will help them teach science and other subjects. A community center to replace the existing Grange Hall has also been suggested.
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