Tumwater Proposes Stormwater Service Fee Increases to Fund Deschutes Estuary Project

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By Jerome Tuaño

Tumwater is proposing several stormwater service fee increases to fund the city’s contribution to the Capitol Lake-Deschutes Estuary project.

During a City Council business session yesterday September 13, City Administrator John Doan proposed an increase in Tumwater’s stormwater service charge by 0.5% over the years 2023-2026, 1.0 % in 2027-2030, 0.5% in 2031-2036 and 0.5% in every even year until 2050.

The increased fee will cover the city’s contribution to the estuary project, which they say will cost $2,768,000. This amount does not take into account inflation or other cost-increasing factors.

Doan estimated the city’s contribution could be as high as $5 million if other factors were considered.

“If lake sediment is to be removed to the uplands…it must be containerized and trucked to Oregon and dumped there. Obviously, the price of the whole project skyrockets,” Doan gave as an example during the working session.

According to documents prepared for the working session, a standard stormwater bill of $13.02 in 2022 will increase by $0.65 with all amendments.

Doan said at the meeting that staff had yet to calculate the overall percentage increase by 2050. Council member Charlie Schneider noted that the fee could be around 15% over time, which which Doan thinks might be correct.

“I didn’t do that calculation. So [Schneider] may well be right,” Doan said. “It’s a lot of small percentages over a long period of time [but] you’re going to have inflation occurring over the same period.

Doan noted that LOTT Clean Water Alliance and Thurston County would contribute roughly the same amount to Tumwater. Olympia’s contribution will be higher at $4,100,000 in 2022 dollars.

Under an agreement being drafted for the estuary project, Tumwater will also be responsible for maintaining the boardwalks that will be built on the south basin.

During the design and permitting process, the Washington State Department of Business Services will coordinate with Tumwater to ensure the boardwalk meets design standards. The State will bear the construction costs.

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