Wastewater Management Plan Update

Septic tank

Why Update the Plan? 

The work accomplished by the Olympia Wastewater Utility is guided by a masterplan approved in 2013. Under regulation, a wastewater (or sewer) utility is required to have a general sewer plan at the time the utility is first established. Thereafter, plan updates are not a regulatory requirement.

The Utility is currently updating its 2013 Wastewater Management Plan because it serves as a valuable tool to facilitate efficient and effective management of Utility programs and projects. As the 2013 Wastewater Management Plan serves as an excellent starting point, only a minor update is anticipated.

Key Challenges to be Addressed

The Utility faces numerous challenges in providing wastewater service to its service area. The following eight key challenges will be addressed through the plan update process. Click each for more detail.

Aging and maintenance-intensive infrastructure poses risks to public health and water quality.  Understanding the condition of the Utility’s infrastructure informs replacement and maintenance decisions and is referred to as “asset management”. Effective operations and maintenance is critical to the wastewater system.

STEP challenge topics include: maintenance – including lifecycle costs of major components, odor control and corrosion control.

Inflow & Infiltration (I & I) from groundwater and stormwater can unnecessarily consume pipe and treatment plant capacity. To keep pipe capacities from being exceeded, priority areas for addressing I & I should be identified.

Although progress has been made on the removal of onsite sewage systems located within city limits and the urban growth area in recent years, onsite sewage systems in urban areas continue to threaten ground and surface water quality and public health, particularly in northeast and southeast Olympia.

Planned development in Olympia and its Urban Growth Area requires planning for and financing of sewer extensions cost-effectively and equitably.

Changing climate in the Pacific Northwest likely will result in increased rainfall and rising sea levels. Increased rainfall and associated flooding could result in increased flows into the combined storm/sewer system. Approximately five sewer pump stations could be impacted by rising seas.

Early adaptation to higher sea levels may allow for continued reliability and lowest reasonable cost. Efforts made by the wastewater utility such as reducing its energy use and promoting water conservation activities could assist the community in its efforts to mitigate climate change.

Significant utility staff time is spent on tasks associated with fats, oils & grease (FOG), including educating customers on proper disposal methods, responding to sewer system blockages and coordinating with LOTT. The Utility’s current FOG cleaning program is focused on grease cleaning.

To ensure it continues to be addressed, current staffing, anticipated staffing needs and potential opportunities to partner with the Stormwater Utility should be analyzed and identified.

Creating predictability for customers and developers is difficult in a complex environment. The plan will address the balance between ongoing utility needs and keeping rates as low as possible.


Proposed Wastewater Management Plan Goals, Objectives and Strategies

Working with the Utility Advisory Committee, Wastewater Utility staff has identified the six goals the Wastewater Utility hopes to achieve during the next 20 years. For each goal, one or more objectives are recommended. Corresponding proposed strategies follow each objective.

Review the proposed 2019 Wastewater Plan goals, objectives and strategies.

Significant differences between the 2013 and 2019 Wastewater Plan goals, objectives and strategies include:

  • Replacement of the 2013 Wastewater Plan's energy goal, with a broader climate change goal.
  • Addition of an objective to adapt wastewater infrastructure to changes in sea levels (and associated strategies.)
  • Addition of an objective to adapt wastewater infrastructure to accommodate changes in precipitation (and associated strategies.)

For purposes of the 2019 Wastewater Plan, Goal, Objective and Strategy have the following meanings:

Goal:  Broad, qualitative statements of what the Wastewater Utility hopes to achieve.

Objective: Specific, measurable statements of what will be done to achieve the goals within a particular time frame.

Strategy: General approaches or methods for achieving objectives and resolving specific issues. Strategies speak to the question, "How will we go about accomplishing our objectives?" 


Get Involved

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Comments or questions can be sent to sclark@ci.olympia.wa.us.