Port Hadlock sewer project enters second phase

By James Robinson
Posted 3/27/24

Before any major economic development projects could happen in Port Hadlock there had to be a sewer, a foundational fact that continued to bubble up over nearly 20 years of planning and …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Port Hadlock sewer project enters second phase


Before any major economic development projects could happen in Port Hadlock there had to be a sewer, a foundational fact that continued to bubble up over nearly 20 years of planning and consideration.

In February, the first phase of the $35 million sewer project was completed, paving the way for what county staff say will ease the area’s affordable housing crisis and allow for more  commercial growth. 

Samantha Harper, wastewater project manager for the county’s public works department, said Port Townsend-based Seton Construction completed phase one of the project in late February. That work, Harper said, included site prep and earth work, installation of basic infrastructure such as power, water and fiber optic lines, low pressure sewer pipes and effluent pipes.

Once site work was complete, Harper said, Burlington-based Interwest Construction Inc. began construction on the actual wastewater treatment plant, including administration buildings and other ancillary facilities. As designed, and once complete, the membrane bioreactor treatment plant will be able to handle 90,000 gallons per day. County officials estimate plant completion in July 2025.

When sewer construction is complete, the Port Hadlock Urban Growth Area (UGA) will be able to support housing, medical facilities, higher density multifamily residences, senior housing, and commercial and industrial development.

“When the sewer is there, that is when the additional density comes,” Jefferson County District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton told a recent forum on affordable housing.

While the sewer project is widely supported by local elected officials and the area’s civic leaders, many questions remain for residents of Port Hadlock and Irondale. Residents inside and outside the Phase 1 connection area wonder when connections might occur, if they’ll be forced to connect, and at what cost. Planners say more information will become available with time.

"The Port Hadlock sewer team has individually met with the majority and continues to meet with property owners within the core or initial connection area," Harper said, adding there is a dedicated webpage located on the Jefferson County website in place to answer questions. "We are working on keeping it up to date during construction and content relevant,” she stated. "The draft sewer ordinance will be going before the Board of County Commissioners in April/May 2024 for review and approval.  In general, the ordinance provides regulations around when a parcel needs to connect, low income program, framework for how to obtain a sewer connection, sewer rates and other sewer charges and fees."

While planning has spanned nearly two decades, it wasn’t until 2021 when a $20 million legislative appropriation under state Rep. Steve Tharinger brought the project to fruition.

Construction, according to county documents, will follow a phased plan, starting with Port Hadlock’s commercial core along State Route 116 and Rhody Drive. Planning documents call this the “core” area, with service and connections beginning in this zone and expanding into residential areas over time.

Initially, the county plans to “stage” about 100 connections in the Phase I sewer project area. Staging involves preparing all the necessary materials for connecting a property to the system, without actually completing the connection until the system is operational. Staging is expected to start this summer for the highest water users, with connections likely occurring the summer of 2025. The county plans to cover the cost of these initial connections in the Phase I area for as long as funding is available. This phase of the project also includes septic tank decommissioning.


Mason Street

The improvements create the framework needed for the Mason Street project.

Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County owns 17 acres on Mason Street adjacent to the Jefferson County Library and Chimacum Creek Primary School — both of which will connect to the sewer. Without sewer, current zoning allows for only three houses on that parcel, said East Jefferson Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jamie Maciejewski. Once the sewer is built, she said, the site could hold about 150 homes.

“The sewer unlocks density,” Maciejewski said at an affordable housing forum in February. “All housing will be affordable, and no one will pay more than one third of their income for housing.” Maciejewski explained that the housing will be kept “permanently” affordable through the use of 99-year leases.

Preliminary plans call for building duplexes, fourplexes and apartments, in addition to two group homes for developmentally challenged adults.

“There will be no single-family homes,” Maciejewski said.

Habitat staff anticipate selecting a final development plan in May. Construction is slated to begin in 2025, with the first homes ready for residents in 2027.