Cannon Beach

The city of Cannon Beach is increasing its water and wastewater rates as of July 1.

Improvements are planned for the pump station that failed when the sewage spill occurred last summer in Cannon Beach. The costs for these improvements as well as others to the system have meant the city is increasing its rates.

As was previously reported in The Gazette, the Matanuska pump station was involved in the sewage spill in Cannon Beach last summer.

“On July 17, a city of Cannon Beach wastewater pump station failed resulting in an estimated 26,000 gallons of sewage flowing onto the beach at the end of Nelchena Street,” as stated in a story in The Gazette published Aug. 11.

“The city’s Ecola and Matanuska pump stations failed, but since the Ecola was in bypass mode while the city made improvements, only the Matanuska pump overflowed, according to the city’s report.”

Public Works Director Karen La Bonte told The Gazette Tuesday: “The improvements planned for the Matanuska Pump Station are as follows:

“Upgrade the interior control panel and the associated electronics.

Replace the aging generator

Build a new cover over the building to protect all the equipment that currently sits out in the coastal elements.”

 La Bonte said: “Part of these upgrades will enable the Wastewater Technicians to monitor and diagnose issues remotely as they are in route to the pump station when they’ve received an alarm notification. The platform used for this ability is called SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) and it will provide a faster response time and more timely alerts associated with any conditions that could cause a potential failure in the system.

 She said: “There are many things that have already happened as far as improvements to that pump station as a result of the overflow, however, all those items were previously reported on.  The three items noted above will be very large projects and will be timed to ensure the project is not disruptive to The Stephanie Inn which sits directly adjacent to the pump station.

 “The City received a low interest loan which included a 1%, 30 year term to do this project. It also included a 50% principle forgiveness agreement. We are grateful for this funding opportunity which lessons the burden on the rate payers to fund this significant improvement to this pump station.”

 According to a staff report, the rates will increase as follows:  “The proposed budget for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 includes Phase I and part of Phase II water projects in the amount of $1,622,667 and debt service requirements of $27,407. Based on our rate projections the Water Fund will require an additional amount of revenue to cover operations and debt service costs of $103,657 and is a 4% increase. This would bring the ¾” meter base cost to $25.17 per month from $24.20 per month. This is $.97 additional each month. The per 100 cubic feet base cost would go up to $6.29 from $6.05 per month.

“The proposed budget for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 includes pump station projects for Matanuska, Siuslaw/Midway, and Haystack financed with debt in the amount of $950,000 and debt service requirements of $28,500. Based on our rate projections the Wastewater Fund will require an additional amount of revenue to cover operations and debt service costs of $125,270 and is a 3% increase. This would bring the ¾” meter base cost to $27.11 per month from $26.32 per month. This is $.79 additional each month. The per 100 cubic feet base cost would go up to $6.78 from $6.58 per month.”

“The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in February fined the city of Cannon Beach $1,650 for its wastewater spill, as stated in a DEQ press release,” as published in a story by The Gazette dated April 6.

City Public Works Director Karen La Bonte stated in the April story: “The fine is for the spill last year. We are paying it and will not challenge it.  We’ve made many improvements to that pump station and have asked for money to continue improvements at other pump stations that are 30 plus years old in the technology that is inside. So we are making positive strides in that respect.”

La Bonte said Tuesday: “As you know, our last rate increase for water and wastewater was March 20, 2018 which was three years ago.  In order to keep up with the cost of maintenance on our infrastructure it is important that the utility rates stay on par to support those costs.  Without doing periodic rate increases we can’t accomplish that.  Council is considering other avenues to help off-set that cost and relieve the utility rate payers from shouldering the total burden of something that tourists and visitors enjoy as well as the full time or second homeowners paying the utility rates.  One idea being considered is a Food and Beverage tax similar to what Yachats and Ashland Oregon have in place. This type of tax would help to equalize the cost of maintaining our infrastructure acrost all users and not just the utility rate payer.  Council will be discussing this idea further on tonight’s agenda.”

To read the initial story, go to https://www.cannonbeachgazette.com/news/city-reacts-to-sewage-spill-on-beach/article_a1ae002c-dc33-11ea-b34f-4beacea7bcd3.html.

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