Dungeness Wastewater Feasibility Study 2012 to 2013


Clallam County Department of Health & Human Services, Environmental Health, obtained grant funding from the Department of Ecology for a feasibility study to develop wastewater treatment options to address failing and problematic onsite septic systems in unincorporated Dungeness and nearby Three Crabs-area shoreline neighborhoods. This project assessed the feasibility of alternative wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal options while integrating resident input from a public involvement process. The results of this effort are documented in a Feasibility Study prepared collaboratively by County Staff and Parametrix, an Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firm. You may wish to download this detailed map of the study area (PDF) for more information about the project location.

Dungeness Bay

Benefits of this Project

The goal of the project was to develop a plan for future wastewater management that protects and improves the water quality of Dungeness Bay watershed in a cost-effective manner, and addresses long-term viability concerns, without adversely impacting the quality of life opportunities for the community.

This project considered the following issues identified in 2011-12:

  • Private onsite septic systems in the unincorporated Dungeness and nearby Three Crabs-area shoreline neighborhoods are sometimes failing or problematic and may be contributing to environmental and water quality degradation.
  • A shallow water table is likely to become even shallower and storm erosion is likely to increase over time, making long-term viability a concern.
  • More frequent septic system inspections may uncover hidden or unapparent problems requiring immediate owner resolution.
  • Microbial source tracking in the Dungeness Bay shellfish growing area adjacent to this community (portions of which are closed for commercial harvest) shows that human waste is a contributor to water quality degradation. (Battelle study, 2009)
  • The cost of not addressing problems with existing onsite septic systems could lead to lower property values in the long term.

Positive Outcomes of the Project

  • A selected alternative meeting the needs of the majority of landowners and the County: operation and maintenance of OSS.
  • Broad agreement that existing regulations should be better enforced.
  • One neighborhood in the project area (Seashore Lane) agreeing to work together to achieve 100% compliance on inspections each year.
  • Increased awareness of OSS care and maintenance resulting in inspections of systems previously not checked.
  • Agreement in concept that O&M programs should have stable funding.
  • A Feasibility Study on sewer alternatives ready to utilize to pursue funding should the need arise.

Public Involvement History

The Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services hosted two public meetings in 2012 where project managers described the issues from the County's perspective and started the process of gathering input and concerns from community members and other interested parties.

The dialogue from each Public Meeting at this initial phase of the project, and results of a questionnaire, are available here:

Notes and results from public workshops held in February and March 2013 regarding the draft feasibility study are found here:

Review of the draft study also included presentations and outreach with the Dungeness River Management Team, the County Planning Commission, and the County Board of Health. A summary of comments received during the review phase may be found here:

In terms of priorities, while some community members could see the benefit over the long term of centralized sewage collection and are prepared to move in that direction, many more are not. Input from agency stakeholders on the four management alternatives presented by Parametrix at DRMT, BOH, and other meetings was either neutral or in favor of centralized collection and treatment. The wastewater management alternative selected for implementation by the County is the first discussed in the FS: maintenance of onsite septic systems.

From all participants, there was strong agreement that the County could and should uphold the law and immediately improve enforcement of onsite septic regulations, especially concerning maintenance. These actions are within the authority of, and the responsibility of, the Clallam County Board of Health.

At its meeting on July 16, 2013, the Board of Health approved a document listing five conclusions resulting from this project. These set the stage for improved enforcement and funding of O&M regulations and programs.

Feasibility Study Documents

The "Dungeness Wastewater Treatment Feasibility Study" was prepared collaboratively by the County and Parametrix, Inc.

Department of EcologyThis project primarily funded by a Centennial Clean Water Program grant from the Washington Department of Ecology.