By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Officials from Washington State Parks held a public meeting last week at the Brinnon Community Center, drawing about 25 people for the update.
Dosewallips State Park is a 425-acre camping park on Hood Canal that includes a freshwater shoreline on both sides of the Dosewallips River.
It is a popular site for water recreation activities such as clamming, diving and boating.
It draws more than 425,000 visitors each year and is an “economic engine” for the community, according to Brinnon School Board member Joe Baisch, a candidate for a Jefferson County commissioner seat who attended the Thursday meeting.
The presentation was given by project manager Brian Yearout, a state Parks employee, along with consultant Damon McAlister and state Parks system engineer Robert Kirkwood.
While much of the presentation centered around the project’s technical details, attendees were concerned about its location as well as the possibility of a future requirement that nearby residents hook up to the system.
Parks personnel responded that the site, which is on the opposite side of Brinnon from the park itself, was the only suitable location because of geological conditions.
They also stated that the system is closed and would be used only for park runoff.
“This is a great idea and in the long run will be a good thing,” said Jeff Corey of Brinnon.
“But that still doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to afford to hook up to this.
“They might put it up for a vote. It gets passed ,and people have to pay $10,000 or $12,000 to hook up, and it can drive people out of their homes.”
If Brinnon community members were to connect to the system, it would not be for several years.
County Commissioner John Austin said that any connection to the new system would require a supermajority approval — 60 percent plus one vote.
“Right now this is just a system for the state park,” Austin said.
“It means that down the road there will be a chance to connect the system to this area if they choose, with a significantly lower capital cost than in other locations.”
The new sewage system at Dosewallips will replace the aging septic system at the park.
The improved treatment process will reduce negative impacts on groundwater quality, Parks officials said.
The $3.2 million capital project includes a new membrane bioreactor sewage treatment facility and includes a pipe that will carry waste from the park to the facility.
The distance is just under a mile, traveling under the bridge that crosses the Dosewallips River and then underground through Brinnon.
The pipe has already been constructed.
The new system will help support Parks’ mission of natural resources stewardship and is also part of a comprehensive regional cleanup effort known as the Puget Sound Initiative, according to state Parks.
It is identical in function to a system now operating in Fort Flagler State Park.
Aside from potential local hookups, the system will benefit the area, Baisch said.
“It will provide some local jobs because they will need to hire someone to run it,” Baisch said.
“It will provide the opportunity for some young people to go to school and get trained in wastewater management and come back here to operate the facility.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.