Newspaper Archive of
Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
October 22, 2009     Cheney Free Press
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October 22, 2009

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Thursday, October 22, 2009 Free Press Page 3 By BECKY THOMAS Staff Reporter Some communities know the debilitating'effects of a building moratorium. Thanks to a recent upgrade to Cheney's wastewater treatment plant, that threat is far from city officials' minds. Though most people don't like to think about where the unmentionables go when they flush the toilet, plant operator Dan Ferguson understands just how important it is for a city to have ample wastewater capacity. He said the construction of the plant in 1994 spurred growth in the city. "We put our (plant) in, Cheney started growing because all of a sudden developers could put in 100-home developments because we had the wastewater capacity," he said, adding that the recent upgrade is expected to support predicted growth for the next 20 years. The expansion, which includ- ed new wastewater conditioning tanks, new aerators, an expanded composting facility and modern- ized technology, increased the plant's capacity from 1.5 million built for the future gallons to 1.9 million gallons a day. The city began looking at a water reuse project in 2003. "At that time we looked at the facility, what our loading was, what our capacity was, what our permit limits were, and realized at that point that we were well over 85 percent of our capacity," Ferguson said. That realization only way to get ahead is to be- come a problem," he said. Public works director Todd Ableman admitted that the state's tendancy to fund cities that weren't in compliance was unfortunate, but he said that it worked out fine for Cheney. They secured an $11.5 million, no-interest loan from the Depart- ment of Ecology that will be paid "Sometimes it feels like the only way to get ahead is to become a problem." Cheney wastewater treatment plant operator Dan Ferguson triggered the drawing up of plans to expand the facility to avoid exceeding limits imposed by the Department of Ecology. When the city applied for a public works trust fund, which includes state-funded low-inter- est loans, and grants to pay for the upgrades, they just missed the funding cutoff. Facilities that were closer to exceeding their limits, or had already violated, were higher on the list. Ferguson expressed frustra- tion about the system. "Sometimes it feels like the back with sewer fees over the next 20 years. Ableman noted that they were able to complete the project for a little over $10 million, so the debt was reduced. Now that the project is com- plete-the ribbon cutting was done Oct. 9-the city will look into procuring funding for a water reuse system that would pump treated water back into Cheney for use m irrigation. Ferguson said the system would require an extra round of filtration and an ultra-violet disinfecting system that would supply enough water to irrigate the lawns and gardens of Cheney while reducing demand on the potable water system. "The initial cost of the water reuse compared to the benefits is truly minimal when you look at it from the long term," Ferguson said. He noted that the city's aquifer is substantial, but if Cheney continues to grow, water may not be able to recharge the aquifer--which is buried beneath layers of basalt -- as quickly as it's taken out. Ferguson said the water reuse system would contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of the city as it grows. "The more water reuse we're putting up in the city the more potable water we free up for growth," he explained. "The more potable water we use with growth, that's more water coming in to the treatment plant and we have more water for reuse to send back to the city, allowing more growth." Though Ferguson said he'd like to put ifi the system within five years, it all depends on what kind of funding options the city has. Becky Thomas can be reached at Cheney commission takes on wetland mitigation quandary By BECKY THOMAS Staff Reporter Though the issue is now past city council, a discussion at the Oct. 12 meeting of the Cheney Planning Commission highlighted the con- flict surrounding the city putting aside money as a guarantee for work by city crews to mitigate a wetland. Only four of the seven commis- sioners were present at the meet- ing, which made Don Nichols' 'no" vote on the measure stand out even more. Nichols' argument seemed to be with the previous form of the decision, which didn't require the contractor-- in this case the city - to submit an annual report detaiIing the success of the work, specifically the survival of wetland plants. "You're not getting my sup- port. Uh uh," he said. "Not until there is a requirement in code that makes, whether it's Cheney, a developer, whoever, (submit a report). Until you put some .teeth in it, we're just up here blowing smoke." City planner Elisa Rodriguez said the document was edited to require a qualified professional to submit annual reports by Sept. 1 of each year. Nichols still voted against it, and Councilman Doug Nixon, sitting in the audience, expressed his confusion. "I'm not getting it. I'm just not getting it. If we own Miller Pond and we don't do it right, we're "Just because we're a public en- tity and this is an internal project, we can't treat ourselves differently or hold ourselves to standards that are different than we would hold to anybody on the private develop- ment side," he said. The measure passed 3-1 and was accepted by council the next night, after similar discussion and a motion to look at the code and clarify it at a later date. Jennings also gave a report on the progress of Choices for Cheney, the city's ongoing comprehensive plan rewrite process. He said a public workshop scheduled for Nov. 20-21 would focus on design going to have to fix it, correct?" and finding solutions to current Nixon said. .................... design p robq6m in the City.,I: - Corn~~e~lOpmefit di- ' ..... Ithink itVcill l~e'a Very inter- rector Brian Jennings said this is esting two days," he said. how the city wotiI@deal with a Rodriguez detailed a list of contractor hired to do work. code errors, inadequacies and Contributed photo by April Brogan Feeding a good cause Friends of Cheney heart transplant patient Lorna Jarms sold 295 tickets, raising $3,300 at a spaghetti feed last Friday night at the Cheney High School cafeteria. The proceeds will help Jarms with medical expenses. Local firefighter's fill the boot for MDA The Cheney Fire Department and International Association of Fire- fighters Local 1919 in cooperation with Safeway and Eastern Washington University will be "Filling the Boot" for the Muscular Dystrophy As- sociation (MDA)on Saturday Oct. 24. Collection will take place between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at locations around Cheney and at Woodward Field prior to the beginning of the EWU-Montana State football game. This will mark the 13 year of partnering with the MDA to raise funds for this worthy cause. Over the years, Cheney has helped raise in excess of $18,000. Money raised for MDA is used locally. Check out our ISERVlCE confusions she wanted to clear up. She said eight of the 17 items simple word or numbering errors, or unneeded text that could be easily fixed. These eight will be discussed at the commission's first meet- ing of the new year, while the more detailed items, including a need to correct the lack of criteria for binding site plans, will take more time and will be tackled later. Becky Thomas can be reached at Family Picture Special. I 509-, 99-6336 I Brakes, Steering & Suspension Ir Heating & Cooling System Check Check & Top-off All Fluids Lube, Oil & Filter (up to 5 quarts engine oil) Offer good through November 13, 2009 See us for: ..... Snow Tires* Sho~Rs Alignment, Belts & Hoses Batteries . ', CHENEY OWL 120 F Street. Cheney, WA 235-8441 Mon-Fri 9-7 MEDICAL LAKE 123 E. Lake,-Medical Lake, WA 299-5113 Mon-Fri 9-6 (includes pharmacy) Sat 9-6 (pharmacy closed)