Currently Kirkland Video about the ESP
Take the Emergency Sewer Program Survey
Aaron McDonald, P.E.
Senior Accounting Associate
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator
Public Works Main Line
September 2013 Update:
- Construct new sewer main to provide connections for aging septic systems
- Protect land, water and property values
response to feedback from homeowners citing the currently estimated
high cost for the 2013 Emergency Sewer Program, City staff has suspended
engineering work. The program is under further review and status
updates will be sent to homeowners later this fall.
Emergency Sewer Program
The Emergency Sewer
Program was developed at the direction of the City Council to address
growing needs for sanitary sewer connections as old and failing septic
systems experienced operational failures throughout the city. Providing
access to sanitary sewer will allow residents the option to hook into
the system when needed without expensive and disruptive delays.
Providing sanitary sewer availability to areas of the City currently
without has been a City goal since 1999, and this biannual program has,
to date, provided 518 connections to properties on septic systems with
229 of those properties having connected, helping to protect land values
and water quality.
After finalizing the areas to be included, an
engineer works with the City to design a system that meets City design
codes and provides sewer access to properties currently without. A
contractor is selected through a low-bid process, and the project is
constructed, typically taking about 3 months time. At the conclusion of
construction, all costs are tabulated and each benefiting property is
assessed an equal share of the costs. Typical construction impacts
include traffic impacts, noise (limited to 7:00 am - 6:00 pm, Monday -
Friday), paving, and materials storage within the City right-of-way. A
full-time construction inspector ensures a complete and high-quality
product for the City and its citizens.
In Kirkland, there are many
properties dependent upon septic systems, many of which are aged and
failing. Septic systems are intended to be a short-term solution for
handling waste water with an expected life of roughly 30 years. In order
to provide long-term benefits of sanitary sewer to hazardous septic
system situations, the City developed the Emergency Sewer Program in
Some warning signs of a failure are:
- Odors, surfacing sewage, soggy spots with lush green grass growth in the drain field or septic tank area
Plumbing or septic tank backups
Slow draining fixtures
Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system
you notice any of these signs or if you suspect your septic system may be
having problems, contact King County Eastgate Environmental Health Services at
206-477-8050, or visit their website. They can offer advice and assistance for your failing system. They may also be helpful in getting the as-built drawings showing the location of your septic system on your property (not all records are complete and older systems may not have as-builts).
How Does the City Determine New Project Areas?
When starting a new ESP project, we contact property owners with septic systems using mailers, announcements, the City web site, cable TV channel, etc. We also hold public “open house” meetings that allow for residents to come share their concerns and septic issues with City staff. Information is gathered and assessed to determine the best area for the new project. Factors that help determine ESP project areas include the number and severity of septic problems in any one area and the interest shown by the neighbors in the surrounding community.
Emergency Sewer Program Financing Information
There are several costs associated with connecting to an "emergency sewer" main line. Listed below are frequently asked questions regarding the ESP costs and financing:
Sewer Main Line – property owners benefiting from the ESP must begin to reimburse the City their portion (calculated as "Total Project Cost ÷ Number of Benefiting Property Owners") within 10-20 years after construction completion, depending on connection status. An ESP loan may be obtained from the City.
Side Sewer Construction – It is the property owner’s responsibility to hire a private contractor to construct the side sewer to their home. These costs are not included in the ESP loan. A side sewer permit is required to initiate side sewer construction. Check the Yellow Pages under "Utility Contractors" or "Plumbing Contractors" for local companies who do side sewer construction work and to get an estimate.
The total budget for the 2011 ESP is $1,400,000. Exact costs will be determined once the project is complete. The cost for one assessment in 2009 was approximately $16,000, and construction trends show each program year assessment increases by approximately 25%. Some parcels may be subdividable and would be charged multiple assessments based on the square footage of the lot.
City Fees–Fees associated with connecting to sewer are a monthly residential sewer rate fee based on water consumption for the months of November through April. Current fee schedule.
Other Fees – Because King County treats Kirkland’s waste water, they have a capacity charge impact fee as well. For a current fee schedule, see King County's website or call (206) 296-1450.
What is the interest rate charge for the ESP Loan?
Currently, the interest rate for ESP loans is calculated to be 95% of the U.S. Treasury Bill. For those who choose to go on a payment plan to repay the loan, a statement is sent out once a year for payment for 10 years until the loan is fulfilled.
Will this loan show as a lien against my property?
Yes. A lien will be filed by the City and placed on your property’s title. This means that if you sell your home, the loan will have to be repaid in full at that time. Your title or escrow company will contact the City to get the full payoff amount and work with you to complete the transaction.
If the main sewer line is owned and maintained by the City, why do property owners have to pay for it? Why isn't sewer considered to be part of the infrastructure like streets and be paid from our property taxes?
According to Washington State law, city-operated utilities, such as water and sewer, are budgeted separately from the city’s general fund. Current sewer fees are paid by current sewer users, or ratepayers, and those funds are to be used for operation, maintenance, and replacement of the current sewer system only. No sewer construction or operation is funded by property taxes.
Will I be assessed for ESP costs if it goes by my house but I don’t hook up?
Yes, but repayment is only required after 1) hook up; 2) sale of house; 3) lapse of 10 years since construction.
Why the initial Sewer Capital Facilities Charge (CFC) when there are monthly dues for sewer maintenance?
The one time CFC goes towards the cost of the existing sewer facilities (pump stations, transmission lines) that current ratepayers have previously funded. CFCs essentially allow new users to "pay into" the system and gain equity with ratepayers.
When will construction begin?
Construction generally begins in mid Summer. Length of construction is dependent on program size, and has been 80-90 days in length in the past for the entire program, with 2-3 weeks in each area being average.