Counting on Ecology Patience
April 28, 2022
At the April 12 meeting of the Dayton City Council, the Council members voted against purchasing the property that would have allowed the City to move forward with bringing the wastewater treatment into compliance with Washington State Department of Ecology’s standards. The City has been working to find a resolution for this issue since 2007. That is 14 years of brainstorming, investigations, and research for the best possible solution to bring the City of Dayton into compliance. The Department of Ecology has been patient for 14 years while the City tried to find a solution. A solution was finally found that the City, Department of Ecology, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation all agreed on. A solution that has never been done in Washington State before and that all of the agencies were excited to implement and be on the forefront of.
It took the City Council members less than 30 seconds to undo 14 years of work. Why? Do the Council members who voted No really think they know better than the engineers and researchers who put so much time and effort into the project? Did the Council members who voted No read through all of the documentation that was provided to them so that they could understand the process and all of the work that was done? The Council members had a 3-hour workshop the week before the Regular City Council meeting where Anderson Perry sat down with them and they had the opportunity to look at all of the documents and ask any questions they had. It didn’t appear that the Council members who voted No had done any of their homework or due diligence. They instead chose to wait until the City Council meeting to bring up their concerns and questions when none of the experts were present.
The City has spent over $200,000 to date on the needed surveys and engineering required to get to where they are ready to move forward and begin construction. The City has spent an additional $16,000 in earnest money to one of the private landowners to be able to access his property to conduct the necessary surveys and tests. After the initial contract with the private landowner had expired, the City paid $7,500/month in rent for 4 months totaling $30,000. The taxpayers of Dayton have lost $246,000 that we will never get back because some of the City Council members feel they are smarter and know better than the actual experts. This does not include any potential fines from the Department of Ecology, which will also have to be paid by city taxpayers.
City Council members, how do you suggest Dayton moves forward? Do you really feel that you are being fiscally responsible by making this decision? I am waiting with bated breath to hear your solutions. Hopefully, you share them with us before the DOE starts fining us. And before they start shutting the water rights off for those downstream of Dayton.