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Sacheen Lake sewer dispute in court April 28 th

By Don Gronning | Of The Miner
• April 27, 2011
SACHEEN LAKE – Superior Court Judge Allen Nielsen will hear from attorneys on both sides of the Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District dispute in Pend Oreille County Superior Court Thursday, April 28 at 1 p.m.
At issue is how a lawsuit to stop the formation of the local improvement district (LID) will proceed.
About 115 people are opposing the formation of the LID, which will access property owners of developed lots in the district $21,580 each and undeveloped lots $14,100 to pay for the $9.45 million system. They have hired an attorney who filed a lawsuit to stop the formation of the LID.
According to the lawsuit, the Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District improperly included public roads and government property in the LID. By law, landowners of 40 percent of the property within the LID must formally object to the LID for it to be stopped. The district contends that landowners of only 36 percent of the 337 acres within the LID objected.
Opponents say that if you exclude a park, highways, and other property that shouldn’t be included, there are only 259 acres in the district and that they have easily met the 40 percent threshold to stop the formation. They say that only properties that will benefit from the sewer system should be included in the district.
The Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District commissioners, through their attorney, will argue Thursday that each of the 115 people should pay a $200 bond for the case to continue, instead of being able to combine their case and put up one bond.
The opponents claim that the formation of the district was capricious and arbitrary. The district answers that it is not arbitrary if the district gave due consideration to the process, even if the outcome is incorrect. They say they gave due consideration both when the commissioners voted to establish the district and through the process of seeking objections.
Opponents want the record expanded to present e-mails and other information that they say show the sewer district commission tried to get the outcome they wanted.
One of the things they want admitted is a statement from Josh Shelton, who works as a geographic information systems analyst for Pend Oreille County’s Department of Community Development. Shelton calculated the area for the district that would be included in the proposed LID.
According to the statement, Shelton said the overlay map he developed wasn’t an accurate depiction of the area within the LID due to technical and human limitations.
He said he told Sacheen Sewer and Water District Secretary Sheila Pearman that it wasn’t a “survey grade” document in terms of accuracy.
The attorney for the commission wants to limit the record to what was before the board when they made the decision to establish the LID.
The formation of the LID has been contentious all along. The area of the LID doesn’t include all the Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District. Opponents say that some property was left out because sewer commissioners knew the owners would object, contributing to the 40 percent threshold.
To proceed, the sewer district needed an amendment to its comprehensive plan to build the sewer lagoon on land it plans to purchase from the Stimson Lumber Co. north of the lake. The county’s department of community development issued a finding of mitigated non-significance of the environmental impact of the plan.
The department only evaluated the plan, which didn’t have engineering details of the lagoons. An informational meeting was held by the engineers to explain the plan. Several nearby landowners vigorously objected to the location of the lagoon, claiming, among other things, that it would devalue their property and had the potential to contaminate nearby streams.
Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water commissioners have long said that a sewer system would protect the lake and increase property values.
The hearing Thursday is only to decide how the case proceeds. If needed, a trial date will be set for later.

Lawsuit challenges Sacheen sewer system LID

By Don Gronning | Of The Miner
• February 23, 2011

SACHEEN LAKE – A group has filed a lawsuit to stop the Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District from forming a Local Improvement District to finance a $9.45 million sewer treatment system.
A lawsuit was filed in Pend Oreille County Superior Court Dec. 16, 2010, according to former Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District commissioner Jill Short.
“About 50 percent of the lake is upset with the way this is being done,” Short said. She said about 100 people have signed on to the suit.
At issue is whether the sewer district should count property owned by the county in the acreage that is included in the sewer district. The opponents to the LID contend it should not be counted because the county won’t pay the assessments that will fund a $9.45 million sewer project. Nor will they benefit from the sewer district, Short said, something that’s required by law.
Owners of a developed lot will be assessed $21,580 for the lot and $14,100 for an undeveloped one in the LID. Property owners could either pay the assessment at one time or pay about $110 a month for 20 years or a similar amount for 30 years, depending on what loan the district obtains, district commissioner Perry Pearman said.
“They won’t have to pay anything until they flush their toilets,” he said. The district plans on having the system in place in early 2013, he said.
That’s not the point, said Richard Prange, one of the opponents. Opponents had a chance to formally object to the LID. It would not be approved if landowners representing 40 percent of the property within the LID went on record with their objections.
“We thought we had gained that many,” he said.
But sewer commissioners adjusted the number of acres from 259 to 337 in order to make sure the opponents didn’t get the 40 percent necessary to stop the LID, Prange said. They did this by including the roadways and easements and Meyers-Harters Park in the LID area.
After the period for objections passed, owners of about 35 percent of the property in the proposed LID formally objected.
Pearman said the district got the number of acres in the LID district from Pend Oreille County.
District commissioner Gary Garrett said that it was a proper way to form the LID.
“I’m told that is the way it’s done throughout the state,” he said.
Garrett said he thinks taking the matter to court is the proper way to resolve the dispute.
“It’s an excellent way to go,” he said.
Pearman said he thought the way the district formed the LID was fair.
“It’s not like we’re inventing this,” he said.
The next step is for the attorney for the LID opponents and the district’s attorney to set up a hearing date, possibly by the end of March, he said.
LID opponents said that the dispute has cost them money. Short said she thinks they have spent about $10,000 to hire the attorney.
In addition to the fairness, Short said she objects to being included in the LID because she and her husband have a drainfield system already. She said they paid $14,000 for three holding tanks for their system. She said the system will last 40 years.
She and her husband, Richard, have asked to be exempted from the LID but were turned down. She said there are others who have private sewer systems who were also denied exemptions.
Pearman said that the time to put in the system is now, while construction prices are down and the district can borrow money. He said the district has applied for a 2-percent loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund. The governor has included the project in her budget, but they won’t know if they’ll get the money until after the legislative session is over.
If they don’t get the money, they will seek a loan from the USDA’s rural development fund. That money would also be low interest but would be repaid over a 30-year period.
The Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District is offering property owners a chance to combine two properties into one assessment, he said. The properties must be contiguous. That offer expires June 30.
Prange said that if the LID is allowed to stand, it will set a precedent for all future LID proposals around the state.
“We don't feel that un-served and un-assessed property should stand with equal footing in a determination of this sort,” he said.

The Miner | Sacheen Lake voters defeat sewer district M&O levy

Sacheen Lake voters defeat sewer district M&O levy

By Don Gronning | Of The Miner

SACHEEN LAKE Opponents of establishing a Local Improvement District at Sacheen Lake to fund a lake-wide

sewer system were unsuccessful in turning back the LID but the fight may have cost the district the M&O levy,

which was defeated at the polls.

I do think that some people not in favor of the LID voted against the M&O, said Sheila Pearman, executive

secretary for the district.

Voters were equally divided, with 82 voting in favor of the levy and 82 voting against it, a 50-50 draw. The levy

needed a 60-percent approval to pass.

The district was seeking $60,000 with the M&O, which would have been collected at 85 cents per $1,000

assessed valuation.

The district has been around more than 20 years, said Pearman and only a handful of M&O levies have failed.

The latest to fail was in 2009.

We got a grant and filled in our obligations, Pearman said.

This time the grants may be harder to come by.

Well work with whatever money we have left over, she said. It will be a slim line budget next year.

Some activities the district does will not get done, such as maintaining lake levels, beaver control and milfoil

control, she said.

The LID didnt go to a vote. Instead, elected district commissioners passed a resolution to form one. For the LID

to not go through, owners of land representing 40 percent of the ground within the district needed to formally

oppose the formation of the LID.

According to Pearman, landowners representing 35.8 percent of the land within the district, some 120 acres,

formally opposed the formation of the LID. There are 337 acres in the LID district, Pearman said.

The rules for what objections were counted were specific, she said.

If the written objections werent signed or if they were signed by someone who wasnt the owner of record, they

were not counted, she said. Some arrived late and they werent counted.

The LID will generate $9.45 million to build a sewer system by assessing property owners $21,580 for a

developed lot and $14,100 for an undeveloped one. District commissioners are confident they will be able to get a

loan so that property owners can pay off the assessments over 20 or 30 years, depending on the loan.

The next step is for the commissioners to formally form the LID at a meeting set for Nov. 18 at the Sacheen Lake

Fire Station on Highway 211 at 7 p.m.

comment: Random Thought #20:
Did you ever wonder how it got to be the people who upgraded their septic systems and regularly attended sewer board meetings were vilified as not caring about the Lake, water quality, or their neighbors?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #19:
Did you ever wonder why current board members (and their family) assert that they are not public servants and that the general lake population needs tough love, as the Sewer Board knows what is best for them?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #18:
Did you ever wonder why the spouse of one board member said he didnt want to see any corners cut on a lake-wide sewer system, while his wife said she didnt like that idea when the topic of several cluster systems were discussed as an alternative option to the higher costs associated with the lake-wide sewer?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #17:
If information is power, why are our Commissioners, as usual, withholding the results of the LID vote until after the election? All the talk of being transparent meant what?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #16:
Do you wonder if the eroded banks and flooded septic drainfields, add to the lake nutrients and biomass? Was that actually caused by Sewer District acceptance of higher lake levels? Do you think that your dishwasher soap causes as much havoc as the continuing erosion by high water levels?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #15:
Do you ever wonder what the payment to Johnson/Sterling accomplishes for the benefit of the Sewer District ratepayers? What happens if the payments stop? Will the water stay higher even after the October draw down?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #14:
Do you wonder why the committee members who spent three and one half hours counting the letters of objection, would spend so much energy trying to find ways to disqualify their neighbors objections?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #13:
Did you wonder about the Commissioners decision to publish everyones name if they were against the sewer only to later change their minds? Wouldnt intimidation work this time, as well?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #12:
Did you ever read the comprehensive plan and find even one viable alternative?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #11:
Did you ever wonder if more of the money used to fight the milfoil invasion was allocated to chemical treatment rather than time consuming, labor intensive mechanical means(divers) that we might be farther along in beating back milfoil?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #10:
Will there be a good explanation for the use of the cash deposits from the first LID and will the people instrumental in developing that plan, explain why it now isnt valid or legal?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #9:
Do you ever wonder who would be tapped for the employment opportunities for the expanded Sewer District administrative duties or for the higher budgeted technical and maintenance positions?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #8:

Do you ever wonder about the many different versions of the sewer system proposed, discussed, and later discarded, that always ended up with an even higher cost?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #7:
Would you think that with the Board eliminating nearly 50% of the land area of the District and a loss of a potential $400,000+ in hook-up fees by changing the LID boundaries, would look for ways to tag extra partial hook-up fees to those of us left in the LID boundaries?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #6:
Were there any sweetheart deals/considerations like free hook-ups or the rumored key-holing offered, that wont be discussed until after the election, or ever?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #5:
Do the Board Members care about anyone inside or outside the District that do not support the Sewer as they proposed?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #4:
Does anyone honestly believe that there is any incentive for an Engineer/Construction Management firm to come up with an economical system that is being paid on a commission basis?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #3:
When a lagoon system was proposed as an alternative to the site above the RV Park, did you know the Engineers stated that lagoon treatment presented problems because the State of Washington reviewed and revised the requirements for lagoon treatment regularly and that the District would be subject to additional modification costs? Why the change?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #2:
You ever wonder about the all or nothing thought process of the Board? Their lack of any fiscal responsibility? That they dont care what you think? Do we all deserve to be punished because we cant see a benefits/risk/cost ratio as a plus?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Random Thought #1:

Did you ever wonder why these same people pushed for a Lake Manager (their personal hall monitor)? Whats next, zoning laws, covenants, incorporation or some other way of exerting power, control and fiscal burden on all of us? Or should we just move or stop breathing?

A possible solution to this question: VOTE NO M&O

Do you have any random thoughts?

Name withheld at my request.

slcpo 9/12/10



The current sewer board is constantly throwing out the scare tactic that the Department of Ecology will soon require Sacheen Lake to be sewered:


The facts are:   1.)  The Department of Ecology has never required another lake to be sewered.

                        2.)  Before sewering could be required, the lake would have to be proved to be contaminated, which it is not and testing has proven as much.

                        3.)  If required by the state to sewer the lake, the state would have to pay at least half the cost.  The state of Washington is in a financial down turn and has no extra funding to pay for the project.




Get the true cost of the sewer project:


The Sewer Bord have never had the engineer actually do a lot survey to better get a feel for cost. . We won't have a "rock survey" until after you have been asked to give your support to the project.


Cost per residence: $21,500  And will go up 20-30% or  more


 Employees ?    Service Vehicle ?   Equipment/Tools ?


 Sewer Plant Buildings ?    Insurance  ?


Upgrading electric  Service: ?   


Certifying Wells ?   

 (Necessary incase well damaged during contruction)


$15 Monthly flushing charge 


The sewer board is also planning to ask for $0.85/$1000 in November for the 2011 tax year.





We are led to believe that this $21,500 will give us a complete sewer system.  Do you understand that in 20 or 30 years, once this system is paid for, the Engineer has stated that the system will have to be upgraded, in 20 years, or sooner, pumps replaced, etc.  We will never finish paying for this system.




A Department of Health representative has stated that based on the size and number of homes around the lake, a smaller system would do the job and for several million less.  Why would an engineer who is being paid 18% of the entire project cost, look for a cheaper plan?

Sent in SLCPO

Sept 1 Sewer Meeting


At this meeting the commissioners approved the Resolution 10-03 to move forward with the LID Process. The LID Hearing will be published in the Miner 9-8 and 9-15 and letters to ALL property owners will be sent by the 15th of Sept.

The process for objection can start as of the 9-8 issue of the Miner IF the notice has been posted. Be sure to check your newspapers legal section. Just remember ALL property owners of a particular parcel must sign the opposition letter! MORE THAN 40% of acreage is needed. Opposition letters can be sent in from 9-8 to 10-12 NO LATER and no letters will be accepted after that date regardless of postmark, so get them in early!

The PWTF has been approved but now they are waiting to see if the Governor will actually sign the funds. We were approved for only $8.4 million. The balance of any difference will probably come from application to the Rural Development loan funds. This could also include our required 5% match that is needed for the PWTF Loan. Interest rates on the PWTF should be around 2% for 20 yrs and the RD Loan would be approx 3.25% for 30yrs.

Shortly after receipt of their LID letters, showing the cost, we will be getting a letter requesting the annual M&O monies to operate the lake projects. This will be placed on the November ballot.  It appears they may be asking for $.85 per $1000. I hope people remember that we disapproved a $500,000 bond to help purchase the Stimson Property and the Board still went ahead and made an offer based on an appraisal that was over 2 years old, to purchase that property!  I am not sure if all the Board members are really listening to their constituents.

At least with the LID process everyone can be heard even if you are not a registered voter. BUT will this Board listen to what the people are saying? IF there is 30% opposition do you honestly feel that they will take the advice of Eldenberg AND RELOOK AT THE SITUTATION?

Also at this meeting one of the waterfront people who are not in the District sent in a letter requesting to annex into the District for consideration, but no mention of what that consideration would be.

There will be a committee of citizens around the lake to count the opposition letters received. If you are concerned that your letter will not get to the right hands, a simple solution suggested by a Board member was, SEND IT CERTIFIED OR RETURN RECEIPT!

I was an attendee at the Sewer information meeting last night.

I have to admit that there have been several comments made by various Board members and Engineers that really upset me.

FIRST:  Mr. Eldenberg made it very clear that our using the Stimson property will not impact our Sacheen Lake watershed BUT WILL FLOW DIRECTLY TO DAVIS LAKE!! How can a Board and an Engineer be so unconcerned for our neighbors! I guess they truly believe in the motto "NOT IN MY BACKYARD".

Second: the next concern is the Sacheen Lake Estates situation. A while back they were saying that Sacheen Lake Estates will have to have their own LID when those properties start developing, which was the primary purpose of EXCLUDING them from this LID. The Board continually stated they would be required to have LID#2....NOW they are saying that each of those parcels are big enough to support their own individual sewer needs. SO that does tend to lead one to think that the purpose of the exclusion was due to the Land Area of approx 210 acres that could stop the LID from passing. Very interesting I must say.

Third: Our costs are now up to 21,500 to the tune of $125 per month for a single developed lot. If you didn't sign the covenant/consolidation agreement, then you are looking at an additional stub in fee of $71 more per month and that is only for 1 additional, add up 2 and 3 additional parcels!

Fourth: they tried to use the scare tactic of "The State of WA and Dept of Ecology" will in 3 to 6 years require everyone on our Lake to have a public sewer systems....SO DOES THAT MEAN THE STATE WILL REQUIRE ALL WATERFRONT PROPERTIES AROUND THE LAKE BE INCLUDED IN A MANDATED SEWER SYSTEM, EVEN THOSE THAT DON"T HAVE TO BE INCLUDED IN THE CURRENT LID PROJECT??? If that is the case then why isn't the Sewer Board forcing these properties into the LID NOW!!! What ever happened to "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"?

Fifth: the Board has made the decision that people will share the pumps, whether you like it or not! So I guess "Love thy Neighbor" will have to be taught to everyone, so listen up all the "hateful, nasty" people around the Lake YOU MAY have to share a pump with someone you DO NOT LIKE!!! I love it! Oh you also need to know that the Engineer and Board will decide WHICH property is going to provide the power for that shared pump, so if you don't have the adequate power to run the pump , then you neighbor WHO PAID to have upgraded power will be the source for power, the Engineer also stated those of you who have paid for a generator on your property will more than likely be the source of power for the shared pump. Nice, you pay to insure you have power during outages AND NOW YOU GET TO CARRY YOUR SHARED NEIGHBORS OUTAGE! What a deal, your foresight and expense is now being shared with neighbors.

Sixth: the District Lawyer stated that there are several septic systems that are in desperate need of repair...OH so for those "IN NEED", we all get to pay???? Didn't see anyone jumping to help do my system! Thank you very much!


Property needs current appraisal

To the editor:

Property owners around Sacheen Lake better grab on to their wallets because the sewer board is about to take a good chunk of your money. At the April 7 monthly meeting, we were informed that the board has signed a purchase extension on a piece of land to be used for their sewer lagoon.

What is picking your pocket is this: They are agreeing to pay the price based on an 18-month old appraisal. The property could well appraise for thousands less in today’s market, but we will never know! I asked the county assessor what similar land of the size and type being purchased would cost per acre and was told that, though no pieces that size are selling, the price per acre would probably be $1,500-$1,800 tops. We are paying near $2,300 (or about $64,000 more than we should). Get your attention? Got mine!

It is my understanding that a sewer district can only pay the “appraised” price, but is an outdated appraisal considered the appraised price? I would hope not! Would you pay the price for a house today based on its price two years ago? Not me! It’s your money. Check it out. But then I say to myself, it only amounts to a $64,000 waste – I guess that’s just “chump change” in a $10,000,000 project, and this is just the beginning.

I love governmental bodies that get things done, but what makes me really disgusted is one that takes a question like mine asking for the board to get a “reappraisal of the property’s price” and being told, “Thank you for your comment.” Anyone else?

Guess whose money it is? Yours and mine!

-Richard Prange
Sacheen Lake

I was unable to attend last nights' meeting.  I received an update today and was appalled to learn of the seating arrangements used by the Board.  They sat with their backs to the audience so they did not have to make eye contact or interact with the attendees.  They kept their voices low to make hearing difficult and had slides on the screen that were either too small to see or if large enough, the slides kept changing so they could not be followed.  Guest speakers, Dave Lamb and Jill Short were both asked to sit in chairs were the audience would only see their backs and hear little if any of what they had to say.  Both Lamb and Short refused to sit where people could not see nor hear them.
       The only time the Board faced the audience was during the Public Comment phase.  Attendee questions related to fairness in application and in quality for all from the LID.  I understand that Commissioner Garrett was rude to all asking questions.  When it came time for comments from former Commissioner Ron Schmidt, as he was speaking, Commissioners Garrett and Pearman started having a private conversation, completely ignoring Ron.  What a rude way to treat a man that has given 18 years to the Board.  It appears that the Board does not want to hear from the public and certainly not from those who have views that do not mimic their thinking.  One person heard another attendee leaving last night say, "I love it, he really knows how to shut them up".  Is that the plan? 
       What happened to the "professionals" I voted for that wanted to unify the lake and represent all property owners.  Do they only represent those that agree with them?  How self-serving can you get?  I guess that was another vote wasted.

Please sign me,
Unwanted and unrepresented

Well the results from the Election are in and our lake could be in a lot of trouble. If people do not sit up and pay attention, take an active role in attending meetings and just plain getting involved, our "new" board will ram-rod their agenda, whether it be good for all or not, so fast no ONE will fill the impact until it is to late.
    The voters around this beautiful Lake have spoken! People agree that certain areas of the Lake need sewering..BUT not all areas need it or want it.  People agree that the Terrace needs a sewer system. People agree that they should be helped by the Sewer Board to obtain that goal of a sewer system. The Board needs to look for property within reach of the Terrace/O'Day area to give them a sewer system. Utilize the existing Terrace/O'Day LID to achieve those goals and dreams for those homeowners. Then move on to the next area... Kohles Beach waterfront  properties. Get those who have the failing drain field and systems to obtain an LID to get property to serve those in need. Then move to the next area. Doing this in clusters would make so much more sense. Hopefully your new board will see this. Hopefully we can bring our beautiful Lake Community back to one that is UNITED! The running gun battles have to stop! Everyone's goal is to maintain our beautiful lake Community for all of our future generations. Having a Lake Wide Sewer will not necessarily do that. Give those 50 or so property owners some credit for thinking in the future. Those of you who have paid for the safekeeping of our Lake should not have to pay again and again.
     I for one am so tired of hearing about "Diamond Lake". WE ARE NOT, I repeat NOT like Diamond Lake. Our whole community has a different make-up than Diamond Lake. They are a shallow Lake, flat area and build their homes on top of each other. Sure we have a few areas like that, where you can hear your neighbor sneeze in the night, but the majority of our lots are spaced very nicely for privacy. We have a very deep Lake with dark water due to the Cedar Trees surrounding our Lake. If you really want to stop potential pollution of our Lake, then start by NOT using fertilizer on your waterfront lawns! Our Lake is great for fishing, we don't have mutant fish as some would have you believe, older timers tell us "this has been the best fishing in years", and continues to be today.
      So in closing, I can only tell you to keep an eye on your pocket book. With suggestions for a tax that can be put in place with no input from our Community, to using our M&O monies that WERE NOT voted on to pay for things that were in the Bond that failed and a Board who wants a sewer at ANY cost.............God Save Our Lake!
Signed, Fed Up

Upon reflection on our recent election, I keep thinking about it in the historical perspective. A question does come to mind as to whether anyone has learned anything from the election or do they just think that they have. 
One does notice that the bloc of voters favoring a lake-wide sewer project is in the majority of voters in the election. It also appears that the majority is not one of greater than the 60% required by Washington State Law enabling the majority to enact a tax without further popular support. This voting majority has shown that it is willing and able to elect a Board that may reflect it’s communal viewpoint. It could be argued that the new Board is reflective of the single platform of “get it done”. One wonders for what other reason that these new Board members could be elected when there appeared to be other candidates with greater experience, knowledge, and participation than those successfully elected. Even the one current Board Member running was ousted, even though one would have to admit that she had worked harder than anyone within recent history to try to move the District forward. I also cannot in good faith comment on what appears to be conflict of interest issues, when nearly all candidates owned multiple lots that may be given financial benefits from the District, while single lot holders apparently have no options available to them. So being on the payroll hardly seems a disqualifier as to elective suitability. It does concern me that candidates, who showed any concern for cost, funding availability, impact on the community (except those wanting the lake-wide sewer system) or the greater population was handily defeated. Once again, examining motivation doesn’t require much effort. 
It also occurs to me that the greater population of the District wants to retain the Sewer District. That the District has among other things, addressed the Lake’s water level and milfoil control. That a number of Citizens felt that it was necessary to support the Maintenance and Operations Levy in order to continue to work on those issues, even though they did not support the Bond issue. 
There is a voting bloc that got its’ desired slate of candidates elected and continued funding for the Maintenance and Operation Levy but was unable to maintain the same percentage of votes for a bond that would have allowed the District to move forward with a treatment site purchase. This should make everyone sit back and re-evaluate the situation. Why do people oppose this first step? What was wrong with binding the District to a property that would allow them the opportunity to build a treatment location for some if not all of the District’s ratepayers? This was a chance to move forward when other funding options are scarce. Was it due to the health of personal finances or of the national economy? Was it due to some who would not settle for half steps and by stamping their feet saying “if it is not a lake-wide system now, then I won’t vote for it”. Wow! 
What will be interesting to watch is whether the two groups can ever work together. The group that does not support the proposed lake-wide sewer project cannot elect anyone that reflects their position. They do have the financial veto power by not supporting the necessary funding mechanism offered. The group favoring to proposed lake-wide project has the power to elect anyone that they want as commissioners. They have the power to bring forward any plan, at any price, for any group, no matter what the objections happen to be. But they do not appear to have necessary votes to bring funding through the election process. They would/will need to enact an LID (with or without the support) of the 60% of the District’s constituents or by placing a direct tax burden on the District’s lots (again without any approval process other than by Board member’s vote). 
It will be very interesting to see what path the new Board takes. Will they feel that they have the mandate to push forward without looking back? It will also be interesting to see how the group currently opposed to the projected system reacts as well. Will they continue to support the District, even though their concerns with regards to the current design/projected cost lake-wide sewer are not addressed? Or will they determine that the benefits to the District’s ratepayers are less than the impact of the enactment of the proposed project and vote down any future levy issues? Thereby, dealing a death-blow to the District. 
Will there be any compromise or consensus building efforts? Will there ever be any community building? Or are we going to suffer through the same historical repeats of the past. A represented constituency or just a ratepayer, just who are you? Checks and balances, I do believe that Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, et al had a great vision to see human flaws and integrity. I am looking forward to see what happens next.= 

To All Residents:
                           At the Oct. 3rd informational meeting, it was disclosed that the 
                           General Obligation Bond proposed for $505,000 will be the burden for 
                           ten years for ALL property owners in the Sewer District.  Only the 
                           register voters will make the decision to accept or reject this bond.
                           According to the Sewell Engineer, testing will be done this week to 
                           determine if the proposed property will service the Terrace/O'Day 
                           section of the lake.  If the property is deemed usable, the Bond will 
                           be used to purchase the land and develop plans.  Testing to determine 
                           If the land is suitable for the entire Sewer District can be done at 
                           a later date.  At some later date, after the Terrace/O'Day section 
                           has been completed, the Board can then decide IF they want to 
                           continue to sewer the balance of the District although the entire 
                           District will still be paying for 10 years for the property the 
                           Terrace/O'Day section have their sewer system on.
                           The following questions come to mind:
                           1:  Why is all the District asked to pay for a property for the 
                           Terrace/O'Day section?
                           2:  Where is the guarantee that the balance of the District will be sewered?
                           3:  Why isn't the Bond small enough to cover the needed testing prior 
                           to purchase so that ALL will know if the land is suitable for ALL to 
                           be sewer since ALL will be paying?
                           4:  Once the Terrace/O'Day residents have their sewer system how 
                           urgent will they campaign to see that the balance of the District get 
                           their connections as well?  Do you really want to pay $115/$100,00 assessed value for 10 
                           years to help only the Terrace/O'Day section to have a sewer system?
                           Just consider:  if your property is assessed at $200,000 and the bond 
                           passes, you will pay $230/year above your already increased taxes for 
                           10 years plus M & O requests each year just to help one section get 
                           what they want with no guarantee that you will ever get included.
                           6:  Why is the cost of each sewer hook-up now "we don't know".  The 
                           engineer said at the meeting that all those that are hooked on at a 
                           time after the Terrace/O'Day section will pay an increased amount and 
                           some of the cost may be refunded to the original hook-ups.  In other 
                           words, we buy their land, they get the sewer system, then if we get 
                           included, we get to pay more so they can get a refund?
                           Please consider this carefully.  The lake has been proven to not be 
                           polluted.  Require the Board to take the time to develop a good, fair 
                           plan at the best cost.  SLCPO

Sacheen Lake off polluted lakes list

Clerical error kept lake on federal listing for 11 years

By Youssef Sleiman
Of The Miner

OLYMPIA – The way that people perceive Sacheen Lake’s water may begin to change after the state’s Department of Ecology dropped the lake from a federal list of polluted water bodies in February this year.

“Basically, Sacheen Lake was listed erroneously in 1998,” DOE spokeswoman Jani Gilbert said.

The 303(d) list compiles all of the impaired water bodies, and in 1998, Sacheen Lake was added to the list. However, 11 years later, water quality specialist Ken Koch discovered a clerical error that led to the lake’s listing in the first place.

Sacheen Lake had hits against it for total phosphorous and fecal coliform, which are bacteria left from animal waste and failing septic systems. When water quality assessments were written again in 2004 and 2008, Sacheen Lake appeared on the 303(d) listing again.

What Koch discovered in February was that the 2002 and 2004 listings were only based on the 1998 listing.

And the final listing decision for Sacheen Lake in 1998 was “No.” 

“Yet the listing was erroneously added to the 1998 list,” Koch wrote to The Miner. “In the process of completing the 2002/2004 listing cycle, this listing was still on the list and since there was no new data, the listing was simply brought forward to the 2004 list. The error was finally caught and the listing inactivated.” 

Both the 1998 final listing decisions for total phosphorous and fecal coliform stated “no,” but the lake received the spot on the list anyway and held it for about 11 years.

Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District managing secretary Sheila Pearman said that when the sewer district first discovered the lake had been listed as an impaired water body, the board questioned it. However, to get off of the list, Pearman said, the district would have to spend more funds to “renew” the lake. At the same time, the district was counseled that the impairment listing could also bring in more grant funds for lake cleanup projects.

“In the past, that may have been true,” Pearman said, “But anymore, there’s hardly any grant funds left.” 

As far as Pearman knows, the district did not receive any grant funds based on the listing.

Since the district also did not spend any funds to try and get off the 303(d) list or receive funds from being on the list, the listing had a net zero effect on the district’s balance sheet.

“The biggest impact may be on how people perceive the lake’s water quality,” Pearman said, adding that some residents, after hearing about the 303(d) listing, wouldn’t swim in the lake.

The only active mark against Sacheen Lake remains the aquatic invasive species listing, caused by Eurasian watermilfoil.

The ecology department did note the existence of an Active Phase II State Clean Lakes Restoration Project at Sacheen Lake. The project performed watershed nutrient management (to manage nutrients such as phosphorus), septic tank elimination, lake level regulation, public education and control measures on aquatic herbicides.

“So yes, the people are right. Sacheen Lake was on the 1998 and the 2004 lists, but erroneously so,” Koch wrote.

Sacheen Lake wasn’t the only lake to receive a reprieve from the state’s ecology department. Another total phosphorous sampling hit against Sacheen Lake came from a 1981 float-equipped helicopter recon of the lake. The helicopter would land, take a sample, and then DOE would use the sample for pollution determinations. The results were collected in a 1985 study, informally called a Sumioka and Dion study.

“It was later decided that a single sample event is not justification for a 303(d) listing,” Koch said. “If the Sumioka and Dion information was the only information we had on any particular lake, the listing was inactivated. Many lake listings were inactivated. This happened with Sacheen Lake.” 

This listing was dropped from Sacheen Lake in 2006.

The fecal coliform and total phosphorus listings, inactivated Feb. 4, came from a 1991 Phase I restoration project, by Kennedy Engineers. The data was submitted to the ecology department in hard copy only. Seven years later, the department recommended against listing Sacheen Lake on the 303(d) list, but the lake appeared on it anyway. The department is waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve the 2008 list before changes are made and a new category assigned to Sacheen Lake.

All three sewer commissioner positions are up for election this year, with the only incumbent being recently appointed Jill Short. Two other positions will run for an unexpired term of four years and an expired term of six years.

Voters will also be deciding on two finance issues for the sewer district. The district is putting before voters a 10-year $505,000 bond issue and a one-year, $56,000 maintenance and operations levy. The rate for the bond is estimated at $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the rate for the levy is estimated at 80 cents per $1,000.

The district is holding a meeting Oct. 3 at the Sacheen Lake fire station to discuss the bond. The bond would be used to purchase a site for a water treatment facility, Pearman said.

Sacheen Lake Property Owners:
I have written a survey asking for your opinion of the proposed "Bond" and the proposed LID.  The survey gives estimated costs we are looking at right now if they were passed.
I have begun circulating the "paper" survey at the lake, and I have asked others to help with the task.  I am also emailing to people if I have their address, and they aren't here to get a copy of the survey.  If you would be here in the next week or two and could help by getting these out to your close neighbors by hand, please email me at or call me at 447-4052.  The actual survey asks that you send your filled out form to the Pend Oreille County Auditor.  She has agreed to collect them and get them to the Sacheen Sewer and Water Board.  Thanks a bunch.  I could use some help though.......
Richard Prange

About the only thing to come out of the July 9th meeting at 12:30 P.M. was a decision to run a "bond issue" on the November ballot to pay for land acquisition, comp. plan update, facilities plan, and any needed studies (unless I misunderstood)---aproximately $500,000.  We will find out the "rate" and "duration" after some investigation.  A new LID formation would be a waste of time at this point because funding of it would be based on the completion/acquisition of the aforementioned needs.  Now, I could be wrong, but does this mean that all the lake will be on the hook for the land, comp. plan update, etc. but only the Terrace will benefit if a new LID isn't formed to cover the whole lake??  Anyone know the answer to that question?  I don't want to be "a negative" on this yet, but when I asked if that land could be used for more than one "communal drainfield" I was told "No"---that the Dept. of Health or Ecology wouldn't allow more than one communal drainfield on that property.  Again, I might be wrong, but if the Terrace LID was completed, I think that would be the system of choice for that size project.  Check it out.
Richard Prange
Sacheen Lake

name: Jason Sargent


comment: Dear Commissioners and Mr. Ormsby:

As stated on the Washington State Attorney General's web site:

The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for the people to know. Please review the letter sent to Mr. Rob McKenna.

Dear Mr. McKenna
Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water District in Newport Wa. has been holding "public" meetings without adequate notification of the public. The last meeting was properly posted in the Newport Minor newspaper on July 1st for a "public meeting" on July 2nd. No meeting was held. The meeting apparently was by invitation only and was conducted on June 29th. The topic of the meeting was very controversial dealing with an access agreement between our District and 2 residents of the West Branch of the Little Spokane River who control the level of Sacheen Lake through a series of dams. No opposition from the public was given because the public was not aware of the meeting. The second meeting is to be July 9th at 12:30 pm which has not been publically posted. This meeting will discuss the formation of a lakewide LID for the purpose of a multi million dollar sewer project in which the residents must pay for. Mr. Mike Ormsby from Spokane (attorney for the Board) will attend. To my knowledge an
d my neighbors knowledge no "public" notice has been given. I have been notified by word of mouth. These examples are only 2 of many meetings that have been held. Please advise me of how I may impress upon the Board to properly notify the "public" in advance of all Sacheen Lake Sewer and Water meetings and their respective agenda.
Kindest regards,
Jason Sargent
Sacheen Lake resident

Jul 7, 2009 03:43:12 AM, wrote:

I just read an article in a paper out of Skagit County.  Seems the county applied for and got $2 million dollars from the Department of Ecology to loan out to property owners who need to repair or replace septic systems...........No money out there????   Seems they got it by request!  Now tell me that we couldn't get low interest loans for the sewer District (same lien on property) and save each participating property owner the 18% engineering fee.  I have asked the Pend Oreille Planning Director if he was aware of the potential money source.  He is checking on it.  With good water quality at this time, we need not be in such a big hurry to put out a LID without taking the time to explore more funding sources.  We aren't ready yet!
Richard Prange
Sacheen Lake

To:  Fellow Sacheen Lake Homeowners



Should we Sewer Sacheen Lake?

Yes, at the appropriate time with financial support from those causing the need.  The compilation of very little investigative analysis has not yielded concrete data to verify or deny the existence of any current Sacheen Lake water pollution issues.  Water pollution evaluations seem to be inconclusive and or conflicted.  With the current proposal, the Sacheen Lake Sewer & Water District proposes to assess all property owners to create a $10.1 million sewage system to alleviate alleged potential sewage leakage into the lake from 320 residences.  48% of these homes have permitted septic systems.  240 (75%) of these property owners utilize their cabins only three months out of the year!  With this in mind, we are being asked to throw $10.1 million at an unverified condition supported by, at best, a fuzzy rationalization.  Keep in mind the proposed $10.1 million project price tag was derived from one bid.


 Is a sewer system needed at this time for Sacheen Lake?

On April 23, at the St. Thomas More meeting, I asked Mike Ormsby, counsel for the sewer district, “so with only 16% of the homes that are year round (on the lake), won’t that system be somewhat under utilized nine months out of the year?  Isn’t that kind of a cost consideration in terms of return on our investment?”


Mr. Ormsby responded, “your question is a fair one..I think that return is one way to look at it…whether the lake is fully developed or not though, probably the bigger issue is (is) there a deterioration in the water quality of the lake if you don’t put in a sewer system? and I think that the belief by many is that there is already been some deterioration of the lake”.


I asked Mr. Ormsby, to clarify his position regarding the quality of Sacheen Lake water and Mr. Ormsby responded,” the question was, if the quality of the lake is deteriorating and here again, I’m not here to tell you I have any empirical evidence to say that, but I do believe a lot of people believe that it is”.


Barring the nonsensical response and relying on the facts presented I can only conclude that (1) the proposed sewer system would be “under utilized” at minimum nine months out of the year and (2) the sewer board can’t unequivocally, factually state that the lake water quality has deteriorated over an agreed period of time.  In fact one gentleman present stated that he has been consistently testing the lake and has found very little change for some time. 


Why build an “under used” Sewer System for 10 million dollars if we don’t know the water has deteriorated?

There are 280 + undeveloped lots on or adjacent to Sacheen lake, within the proposed sewer district.  An undeveloped lot is a piece of land that currently may only have a garage or outbuilding on it.  It is unclear how many of these lots are currently large enough to support the required septic and drain fields to pass current county code.  Additionally, it is not clear how many of these lots will be large enough to subdivide and plat into many smaller lots.  With the inclusion of the proposed district sewer system, many if not all of these lots are most likely to convert to properties eligible for one or more structures.  Converting them into cost effective and profitable parcels for development will result in a significant intensification of the lake population and its consequent escalation of use.  This is, in my view, the backbone of support for the  proposed sewer system. Who are these owners?  They aren’t required to publicly divulge their identity.  Remember a yes vote to implement this system is not required.  


The intensity of Density!

Does the lake need protection for the future?  Yes, absolutely.  Protecting our lake from present and future pollution is mandatory and not the question on the table.  The questions at hand are,  Does our lake have a pollution problem now?” and “Who should pay for a sewer system based on future anticipated density”.  If current owners with legal septic systems unfairly bear the long term cost of this system, a minority of property owners and their agents will be very inclined to rezone, plat and develop land near and adjacent to Sacheen Lake.  Preparing for density will guarantee it.  You’ve seen it elsewhere, condo after condo on or near our lake shores.  Saying yes to the current sewer proposal will set the stage for developers to enhance their bottom line and erode our Sacheen way of life.  Worse, we pay the bill and you receive no return on your investment unless you’re planning on selling out and leaving the lake. 


Planned development should require that density is limited to the extent that those that create it pay for the infrastructure to support it.  

Well planned and managed development is not evil.  Every citizen should be entitled to use and enjoy publicly owned natural resources.  Those that seek this liberty should pay their fair share. The existence of inevitable future developments will require intensified infra structure: roads, sewers, security etc..   Shouldn’t those that create the need for a sewer pay for its creation?  The proposed sewer will cause everyone’s property values to increase but so will taxes. Heck, the 2009 assessed values for Sacheen Lake are expected to double this year as it is.  If the proposed sewer is implemented as currently structured, developers will be on the scene before anyone is able to get in the first flush. They will command inflated prices and lucrative profits as they harvest the commercial opportunity created with the sewer system we buy for them. 


n        How can we responsibly protect the quality of life at the lake and the pureness of our water?

Future catalysts of development should solely finance the infra structure required to implement the density from which they profit. Developers need to allocate a portion of their capital to create a protection system for the lake that will be necessitated from their desire to develop their lots.


How can this be mandated? 

Two words -- “use tax”.  If you profit from it, you pay it.  Sure it cuts into profits, but developers will get that enhanced value from their investment with the inclusion of the sewer system they require.  This value will justify their robust margins and the strong consumer demand for a treasured Sacheen Lake location.  


If you disagree with the sewer mandate please make sure your vote is heard.  You must vote “NO” to be heard.  If you support the sewer, don’t bother, the board doesn’t need your support to implement their initiative.

If you are concerned and disagree with the current sewer district proposal the board will be accepting disapproval votes in the near future.  You must vote “No”.  If you disapprove, but do not respond, your lack of response will be construed as a “Yes” vote.  To defeat this initiative, the County will require a 40% response of “No’s”.  That would be roughly 240 Sacheen Lake parcels, not people.  Remember if you have 5 parcels, you receive 5 votes.     


We can all agree that Sacheen Lake is a very special place.  Lets’ make sure those that want to profit from the increased density of Sacheen Lake pay their way for the systems that must be present to support that density.  Those of us that have already paid for our cabins based on an established set of laws and accepted level of density should not be required to bear this expense.


I’m not against change; I am simply demanding equity.

Thanks for listening.


Kim Davis

E. Shore Road 



I think we all would be better off if ALL property holders in the Sewer District were to have a voice in this planned expenditure of $10 Million +/-.  Unfortunately, the methods used by the supporters of the sewer, the prior Board and others preclude that possibility.  The use of orchestrated “straw polls” in which those of us showing concerns are put under the scrutiny and pressure to vote “yes” by hostile stares and voices.  Many of these meetings or cheerleading sessions, are just that.  Another method is the use of highly questionable “statistics”( i.e. 82% of East Shore Residents want the sewer, but is that 82% of the people asked or responded?  Another is “I have 30 neighbors near me who want the sewer.”)  The recent proliferation of “Yes” signs also seem to crop up on lots that are not even served by the Sewer District.  The use of questionable underlying criteria has also been employed.  Two examples are the proposal “that the Lakewide Sewer would be a “Growth Management Tool”” and that “the Sewer District would be able to determine the number of bedrooms that a structure could have in the District” (according to the Commission Chair).  But one of the most egregious justifications is the water quality issue.  This justification is not supported by either the Sewer District consulting Water Quality expert Dave Lamb nor has it been shown in the continued testing of the water. That in a statement by Karen Averit that “It wouldn't matter if one quarter of the lake were sewered, when the other three quarters still are polluted with failing or non-existent systems. By this logic we cannot go forward because without sewering the large blocks of property on the lake that are not part of the Sewer District, then no matter what we do, the lake will still be “polluted”.  These are some of the methods used to determine support and viability of a lakewide sewer project.  Let’s face the facts that there is a sizeable minority on this lake that want a sewer, period.  They don’t care what it costs, who would be hurt by it, what it will really do to the lake because of the increased use and development, or whether the process is dealt with honestly.


The reality in this situation appears to be that the Terrace LID formation was based on approximately 80 lots @ $16,000.00 = $1,280,000.00.  The Terrace cannot build a system for that cost and must have outside funding to meet a $16,000.00 LID level.  Unfortunately, it was shown at the last information meeting that even with the “help” of the balance of the lake to support the formation of a Lakewide sewer, the cost will still rise above $20,000 per lot.


We understand that a project such as this would require an evolution of thought.  But much of the process is ill-advised or not functional, primarily because the drive to get a system in place is so all-consuming to some, that poor decisions have been made.  I cite the example of the Comprehensive Plan that was ordered for $50,000.00 that used examples that could be employed that were not viable, even as it was written.  Now, a revised Comp plan is in the works for a discounted $45,000.00.  The prior Board voted to not consider any other Site than the “HWY 211 Kopp property”, even though there was opposition to that property from a business neighbor, that it was limited to only 200 hookups, and has a building moratorium on it.  The Board, who voices a concern for multiple lot holders (possibly offering them a better ”deal”, discussion of a discounted hookup for Cedar Creek Resort and maybe 10 hookups for the Hwy 211 “old resort”, but will not address the concerns of those of us who have spent $10,000’s in being proactive in improving our septic systems, except by telling us “you have to collapse your tanks”.  Can we be justified in going forward with a $10 Million project supported by a one purpose constituency and Sewer District that has demonstrated through their actions being less than fiscally responsible?


I have been told by the regional head of Tri-County Health that the State of Washington mandates their office to allow repairs of septic systems within the law.  Have you attempted to improve your system, or do you just want the rest of us to pay for it?


Look around this lake, at night, for 300 days of the year, how many residents are there and does common sense tell you that we should invest (define that!) $20,000.00+ per lot?  Or are the many seasonal users paying for the few? Common sense tells me that a Lake defined by geography into three distinct areas is better served by three or more cluster systems to serve those who may need a sewer as their only option and to cut huge costs (and cost overruns) from being incurred by everyone.


I asked the SS&W attorney at the last informational meeting as to whether the Board must determine a non-response be a “yes” or in favor of the Sewer project.  I was told by Mike Ormsby that “it is up to the Board”.  Eric Eldenburg of Sewell Engineering, has on many public occasions stated that he would recommend that the Board drop this project if there was as much as 25% against.  Mr. Ormsby changed his statement to 40% against would mandate dropping the project from an earlier misstatement.  The supporters of the Lakewide Sewer have not wanted this process to go to a vote and therefore are trying to be “fair” by attempting the non-voting LID format.  I have been told by a person (that I will not name) that is an expert in LID formation for a nearby local government, that they would have already dropped this project due to the amount of opposition.  We ask that because this is America, and we believe each person should have a vote, if the 60.1% want the lakewide sewer then, we will withdraw our opposition.  But we also believe that a yes is a yes, a no is no and a non-response means that the person was not actually contacted, is undecided or maybe doesn’t care.  Can you imagine what our government would look like if the non-participating people in our country would always be considered yes voters?


Mike Kanyer



After attending the SS&W meeting last night (5/7/09), I must add the following bit of information of which everyone should be made aware.


Eric Eldenburg of Sewell Engineering has proposed a total build-out of the lakewide sewer to a total of 400 hookups.  This recommendation is apparently in response to the ongoing public pressure of getting the cost of this system back down to a $16,000.00 level and at the urging of a lower cost option by Sewer Commissioner, Jeff Storms.  We all appreciate the fact that Sewell is willing to look at a lower cost option BUT….


In his recommendation, Mr. Eldenburg was able to justify the lesser amount by looking at the historical data of 2-3 new homes built per year within the bounds of the Sacheen Sewer District.  This based on 320 structures currently in place on 607 lots.  In figuring the build-out, Mr. Eldenburg figures that a 25% increase would result in a mathematically derived figure of 400 hookups.  The design criteria from the Comprehensive Plan was 200 gallons per day per hookup.  He believes that historical data from other area lakes reveals that there is a possibility that flows of 150 gallons are possible and therefore provide a built-in extra capacity.


Unfortunately, there were some other issues that could not be addressed by Mr. Eldenburg at the meeting.


1st.  The historical data of 2-3 homes per year cannot in good faith be used due to the fact that with building permits restricted around the Lake, there is a significant amount of pent up demand and his planning is not taking that into account.  His projection that the system would not meet capacity for 20-25 years may be based on hope, rather that reality.  A promise was made to look at other area lakes (Deer Lake, Diamond, etc.) to get a better view of growth following a Sewer installation.


2nd.  The underlying math in this proposal includes the following: 


Approximately 100 lots will be consolidated or allowed out of the bounds of the LID.  This leaves a balance of 500 +/- ratepayers into the system. 


The first 400 hookups will max out the systems’ design and construction parameters.


100 lots will probably not be able to hook up to the system, even though they will have to pay for the system.  The resulting lower cost that is being offered, is still dependent on ALL 500 lots/ratepayers contributing, to bring down the cost to $16,000 +/-.  We would hope that these lots would not have to bear the $20- $30 monthly service fee.


3rd.  Washington State Health uses a design criteria of 190 gallons per day for a two bedroom house septic system.  200 gallon per day flows for the sewer would probably not be considered over-designed. 


4th.  Most troubling of all, is that Mr. Eldenburg’s proposal acknowledged that failure to design and build a system equal to the needs of the District now, must be addressed in the future.  He was not able to give a figure in today’s Dollars as to the costs of increasing capacity in the future to cover all hookups charged.  Although, Mr. Eldenburg did say any future expansion would have significant costs attached.


It would be appropriate for those of us who would view our ownership to be long term to know what the ultimate cost would be for this sewer.  It is not a revised $16,000.00.  In fact, the costs could possibly go higher than $20,000.00 per hook-up due to the delayed construction to bring the service to all who are paying for it.  For example you will pay the revised cost of X ($16,000.00?) and at some point later (2-20??? years) when capacity is met another cost Y ($???) will be levied on all hookups.  Are we all going to be dead by then?  Is this just real estate or a gift to our heirs?


I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a pyramid scheme, but pushing the remaining costs farther down the road without knowing the costs/consequences, does not provide the underlying picture for all of us to grasp.  Mr. Eldenburg said that once the capacity of the system is reached, a future Board will be forced to deal with the problem.  We beg to differ here.  When the capacity is met, and the District is forced either to fight a legal battle with our neighbors who are paying for the system but can’t use it, or expand the system.  Expansion costs will be borne by the Sewer District ratepayers(all of us), not the future Board and not just the latecomers.  And any hope that other areas not covered by the LID will join and pay large hookup fees is not a viable hope.


It is obvious to me that Sewell is reacting to the negative response from the crowd at the Spokane April 23rd Informational meeting over the cost of $20,000.00 per lot.   I believe that it is somewhat disingenuous of Sewell to come back with a proposal that shows an artificially lower cost with deferred construction and no costs that will be attendant with such a scheme.  This is not the first time Sewell has tried to show lower costs with many to pay but would not all would be served.  In the fall/winter of 2007, the Board looked at one of their proposals for the Kopp property that included 78 full time hookups and 240 seasonal hookups without the ability to expand on that property to serve anyone else.  This is without knowing how many lots were in the District, how they would determine who would get a full time hookup and how they would cover the hookup needs of the District when capacity was reached.  I would have hoped that Sewell would understand that there would be a much better chance of a lake-wide sewer to succeed if the costs were brought down to a reasonable level.  But hiding costs, that are probably going to be coming our way sooner, rather than later, does not get us where we need to be.  Is it time to find a new Engineering firm?


Last (thank you GOD!) I brought my earlier concern to the Board and formally asked them to not consider non-responses to the LID question.  Again, a yes is a yes, a no is a no, and no response is not considered.  I was told that the Board would consider my request and make a decision at a later date.  I urge you all to contact the Board and voice your thoughts.  If you believe, as I do, that people should have a voice in their future, and the majority will decide, then no one should have any fear with the adaptation of this policy.


Mike Kanyer

Sacheen Lake Sewer –As I See It


So some Sacheen Lake residents would like to have a sewer system, and you need to understand the background before you can understand the hostility that it has created.

Some of the lake properties are too small to have space for both a well and a septic system on the same lot.   If these cabins were to burn down, they couldn’t rebuild.  They formed a LID for a group sewer system a few years ago that would take care of a good many of the problem lots, but it was too expensive to do the project with the number of property owners covered.   They got together and decided that they needed a lot more properties to be covered to make the project financially feasible for them to go ahead. 


Now to do this, they decided to make everyone of the properties around the lake hook up-developed or not.  As they said, “ more people on the bus with everyone paying the same lowers the cost for all of us,” and the cost kept growing even after adding lots that were undeveloped and lots with brand new, working systems that didn’t need a sewer—“ more people on the bus…..”  Now we have a conflict between our justification and the facts.


They decided to justify this action by saying that the water quality around the lake was “bad and getting worse all the time,” yet at multiple, public, sewer meetings their hired consultant, that has been doing water quality studies around the lake for years, has said that, “Sacheen Lake has good, recreational quality water suitable for everything but drinking”.   So we have a conflict again between the justification and the fact. 


We have a $10,000,000 project proposed with no alternatives priced out, (costs running from $19,000 per developed lot to $11,000 for undeveloped lots as estimates) and some people like me want put all options on the table, price them out, and then and only then offer them up for a public survey or LID.  Let the chips fall where they may.  I have heard of other proposals, other ways of dealing with the project that are much less complicated, less invasive, less demanding, more protective of individual property rights (actually allowing people with expensive systems to opt out until their systems are shown to fail.)  I know this is a novel idea, and we have to remember that the whole basis for this proposal is, “ the more people on the bus………”. 


I just want to see the background research done to show that this system is the only system that will do the job, and it is the cheapest, less restrictive possibility.  Asking too much?


Richard Prange

Sacheen Lake

To The Editor: Newport Miner 
Recently, Joanie Suttle, cited a portion of a conversation Commissioner Storms had with The Miner
regarding reasons for failure of the M&O bond for the Sacheen Sewer District. If she communicated
with Commissioner Storms or attended Sewer Board meetings,regularly  her confusion may have
been cleared up. She also stated what she erroneously perceives to be the belief of Save Our Sacheen
members and supporters regarding sewering. Again, if she had attended an S.O.S. meeting, she would
know that lake level is the main focus of S.O.S., not sewering. Most S.O.S. members and supporters favor
sewering, but not “at any cost” and not without all relevant information. S.O.S. has no interest in
sabotaging the sewer. Ms. Suttle must know of some other small group trying to control lake decisions.
The important question remains: Why did the M&O fail?”. Commissioner Schmidt, at a board
meeting, said, “The M&O and sewer project are two separate issues”. M&O funds are intended for
controlling lake level, milfoil elimination, park maintenance, staff compensation, etc., not for payment
of the sewer  Comprehensice plan, which was rolled into the M&O request. County re-evaluations resulted
in most property owners seeing a doubling plus of assessed property values, the M&O tax basis. The
requested amount was not cut proportionally.
Ms Suttle is correct, communication is the key. Now that the issue of the board commissioner is
resolved, maybe the board and staff can focus on open communication with lake residents, owners, and
voters. Transparency of operation and full disclosure of information by the board and staff, may
restore confidence and the M&O and sewering project may find more support. The board is urged to
do as Ms Suttle suggested: “help property owners make informed decisions with true facts and figures
regarding sewering”.
For more information visit
Jamie Spivy
Letter Sent 12/5/08

Pend Oreille County wants bigger piece of wealth from Seattle's dam Click Here

Dear Sacheen:

Its difficult for some people to make this meeting . Bill and I mentioned that it  would be nice if the meetings could be held on Saturdays when more owners could show up.
The latest is according  to Sheila Pearman and your sewer commisioners (Not Jeff Storms)on how the Comprehensive plan and the upcoming Facilities plan could be payed is these three options:

Option 1. Impose a up to  1/2% of 1 % of assessed value as to some RCW which we did not catch? (Does not require a vote)
Option 2 A bond
Option 3 A vote

Which one do you think they will pick? Which one as a property owner are you willing to pay? Lets get this in real numbers so you as a property owner understand what you could be paying?  If the Lake residents are paying 1.68 % levy now that could increase up to 2.15%  It just seems like a misappropriation of public funds to impose a expense on the majority when the majority never asked for this comprehensive plan in the first place? You have the minority (Sacheen Terrace ) doing a comprehensive plan for the whole lake. Now comes the facilities plan.  We can assume the LID wants it , Sewell wants it and the DOE wants it  but are you willing to pay for it? The Lake needs to get involved because your commissioners' think non-involvement means yes! Yes I am for you spending my money! Yes I am for a sewer! Yes I am for a $20,000 debt or more on my property! Yes I am for another $100 a month!  Forget the B.O.A.T. (Bring out another 1000) Heck bring out another 10 ,000 or 20,000!  Heck the skys the limit here!
Its got to be difficult in your shoes because you are a week-end lake and some neighbors can hold a grudge if you disagree but if you don't stand up for your rights, who will? There are Four things worth fighting for in your one life,  Your Lord, Your Family Your Country and your Property.  Depending on ones priorities or beliefs it may be one or all.  Stand up either way and let your voice be heard!
 Option 2 and 3 were not mention until asked what option 2 and 3 were so once again, ask your self knowing what you know, what option will your representatives be choosing? Keep in mind Jeff Storms was not there!
A 4th option could be to equally divide the costs of the Comp plan and the facilities plan into 607 equal shares? That way, who benefits the same, pays the same. Its not right to charge more for one owner versus another when it comes to this sewer. If the plans costs 100,000 divide that by 607 which would equal =$165 per Lot owner. If a person owns more then one lot then they should pony up that amount times $165 up front. If you own no lots like Ron Schmidt your sewer commisioner Chairman you pay nothing!

Bill and Donna

Anonymous Citizen on March 5, 2006]
Is there not a politician in Olympia going to help the people living on the other side of the state? Sacheen Lake is losing beach frontage as we speak. The erosion and property damage caused by the beavers dams is tremendous. The conservation district, county commisioners and various committees talk alot but as a home owner all I see is the water rising. I'm not sure what the answer is but it's certainly not more beavers!

Sacheen wetlands too wet

I read in the paper that the folks along the Little Spokane River are so low on water they can,t water anything.

How ironic. The headwaters of the Little Spokane is Sacheen Lake, and we have to much water. Ninty-nine percent of the people who own property want the water lowered. It has done damage to many of the properties.

We can,t seem to get through the bureaucracy: ecology, fish and game, and some Pend Oreille County departments.The wetlands used to be 3 inches deep ; now they are 10 feet deep. The problem is severalbeaver dams. We have 2- foot pipes through now and are trying to get the OK to put a 4 -foot pipe to replace them, but the bureaucracy hasn't OK'd it yet.

If the folks on the Little Spokane want to look at their water that they probably have a right to that is senior to most of the people on Sacheen, they can come up to the outlet creek on Sacheen.

Roger Moore

Letters & Emails



Above all, let’s not lose sight of the following goal:

1. To keep water flowing downstream, out of Sacheen.

This keeps the lake water quality a little better. Any concentrations of stuff (whether it’s algae, bacteria, phosphorus, goose . droppings, etc.) are kept from accumulating as badly, if the lake flows. Flowing water helps clean itself.

Flow keeps the lake level from rising as high as it would if no flow goes downstream.

Flow sends some much needed water toward an area that has too little. It may not be as much as they need, but it must be of some help.

Enough flow sent downstream will hopefully give Sacheen enough capacity to handle the next spring melt. If the lake doesn’t flow into yards, it doesn’t pick up added nutrients from decomposing vegetation. Our aquatic plants (like big leaf pond weed, milfoil, elodea, etc.) don’t need any extra fertilizing nutrients.

If the lake level isn’t extra high, it can’t reach soil that hasn’t been eroded much in the past. We don’t need a heavier silt load in the lake or in the outlet stream.

Houses/cabins in the Narrows that were moved closer to the lake by the County in a previous Fertile Valley Road realignment, won’t be undermined by a high lake level the County obviously never anticipated. Shoreline trees aren’t as likely to be lost to undermining.

A lower lake level reduces the level of the water table in the land surrounding the lake. This means septic drain fields work better. This also means water doesn’t enter wells from the lake side of the land, but does from the uphill side. Contamination by iron bacteria from the lake can give your well water a nasty smell, and, of course, iron can stain fixtures, laundry, and hair. And necessitate an added filtration system.

In short, the Conservation District told us the grant they administer to reduce flooding issues wouldn’t cover hiring a hydrologist to tell us the best way to address these issues. Therefore, a plan for larger beaver tubes was put forward. It may not be a permanent solution, but it is something we can try now. It doesn’t mean we stop looking for other solutions. It does mean we owe Jeff Storms a huge debt and countless thanks for his tireless efforts to better conditions at Sacheen. How many other homeowners are working that hard for solutions?

Pam Zarko

From the Spokesman Review re: Sacheen Resident - Ron Brooks:
Shadle's Brooks to Hall

Ron Brooks, head baseball coach at Shadle Park, will be inducted into
the Washington High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame this winter.
Brooks' career has included two Final Four appearances - in 1990 and
2003 - while approaching 300 wins in 24 seasons at his alma mater.
The announcement was made when he was coaching at the State All-Star
series two weekends ago, during the fourth inning of a game at Parker
Field in Yakima.
Brooks said he was flabbergasted and even now, "every time I say it I
get chills. It's pretty humbling company."
He will join his former coach and predecessor, Jim Brown, in the Hall of
Fame. Brown was inducted in 1993 and between them, said Brooks, they
have coached 38 of Shadle's 50 baseball seasons.
Among his accomplishments, apart from three Greater Spokane League
titles, seven top-two finishers, numerous district playoff seasons and
282-221 overall record, was last summer's renovation of Shadle's Al K.
Jackson Field.

Planners approve beaver tubes,

By Michael Denuty
Of The Miner

NEWPORT – The Pend Oreille County Planning Commission met for nearly four hours Thursday, Oct. 4, approving permits for the Sacheen Lake beaver dam tube project and the Bare Mountain Substation 115 kilovolt transmission line. The Bare Mountain project goes to the board of county commissioners for final approval.

About 60 people filled the commissioners’ meeting room and spilled out into the hallway. Most attended for the continued public hearing on a proposal to replace the current 2-foot diameter water flow tubes through three beaver dams at Sacheen Lake’s outlet with 4-foot tubes, to help lower the lake level, which has been rising for several years.
Most of those present were in favor of the project,  3 people complained that the proposed action was not based on science.
Jeff Storms of the Sacheen Sewer and Water District outlined several years of work done to maintain a reasonable lake level. He said he had slides, data and history available but this meeting was for public comment. 
A few questioned science and past history, and some expressed concern that the pipes would be too heavy and unwieldy to control.
Jim Peterson, of Silver City Timber Co., who owns land and lake frontage near the outlet, said he has allowed volunteers to use the company’s land for the work.
Storms said pipe elbows at the end of the tubes help control water flow. He said the tubes require continual attention - volunteers need to inspect them two or three times per week.
Jeff Lawlor of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said his job is to protect wildlife, but the goal here is to try to restore the lake to a more normal level.
He said that beavers are a problem across the state and the tubes are the only thing that are effective in controlling water flows.
Planning commission members asked for data and an operating plan, but after hearing from Storms moved to approve a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for the project.

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