Clark County is one of four participants in a regional sewer partnership that includes Clark Regional Wastewater District and the cities of Battle Ground and Ridgefield.
On April 17, 2012, the Board of County Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that lays the groundwork for creating a regional entity under Washington law during the next four months.
Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Clark Regional Wastewater District had earlier approved the MOU. A board of directors, consisting of Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke, Clark Regional Wastewater District Commissioner Neil Kimsey, Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow and Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, will guide the proposed regional alliance forward.
The board, meeting on May 18, 2012, agreed that the proposed partnership should be called the Discovery Clean Water Alliance. The name reflect Lewis and Clark’s “Corps of Discovery” Expedition that first explored the area more than 200 years ago, as well as the potential for sewer service to open up new employment lands for economic development and job creation.
The partnership also is projected to have economic benefits for the Hazel Dell-Salmon Creek area. To encourage economic development, sewer connection charges for Hazel Dell-Salmon Creek developments will drop by 20 to 30 percent, largely though restructuring existing debt in the current low interest rate environment. Although there will be small increases in bimonthly rates during early years (roughly at the rate of inflation), rates are projected to be reduced by 5 to 10 percent in 10 to 15 years, should development occur as expected.
If the alliance is created, the four partners eventually would combine their existing regional assets, such as sewage treatment plants. Each partner would pay for its proportional share of operating and maintenance costs based on its sewage flow.
Sewage treatment plants
In June 2014, Clark County Commissioners agreed to transfer the county-owned Salmon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Discovery Clean Water Alliance. The county also agreed to transfer pump stations and regional interceptor sewer lines.
Clark County will continue to operate the Salmon Creek plant for a five-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Plant employees would remain County employees during this five-year period.
The regional partnership eventually would decide if it wants to continue contracting with the county or have employees transferred so the alliance would have its own staff. The county expects to have a transition agreement to ensure Public Works employees would go to work for the alliance, assuming that it does not want to continue contracting with the county to operate the treatment plant.