Your Sewage Journey
What happens to sanitary wastewater (the polite way of saying sewage) after you flush your toilet or send water down the drain?
From your Battle Ground home, it takes a long 16.8 mile journey to the Columbia River with some essential stops along the way.
- The sewage from your home travels to the city’s Operations Center through a series of underground pipes with the help of 14 pump stations located throughout the city.
- At the operations center, the sewage is held in an underground Equalization Basin that regulates and equalizes the flow of sewer as it leaves for treatment. (Think morning and evening sewer rush hour / gridlock.)
- From the city's Equalization Basin, a main pump sends the sewage (an average of 1.86 million gallons per day) through pipes on its 16.8-mile journey to the Salmon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
- Gravity and a series of pump stations push the sewer along at a whopping 2.4 mph. It’s a 7-hour journey from the city’s Operations Center to the Wastewater Treatment Center where it is treated per highly regulated standards before entering the Columbia River.
Sewer Operations, Infrastructure & Cost
Who owns and operates this massive infrastructure and who pays for it?
City of Battle Ground
The publicly owned infrastructure within the city includes 70 miles of main lines (the pipe that takes the sewage from homes and businesses to the city’s operations center), 14 pump stations, and the 3.5 million-gallon capacity equalization basin.
City Public Works crews maintain the system daily. Pump stations are monitored 24/7 and regularly cleaned to prevent clogging and breakdown of pumps. Crews use specialized equipment to keep main lines clean. A closed circuit TV truck is used to inspect pipe and manholes.
The cost for the operations and maintenance of Battle Ground’s sewer system in 2021 is $988,000.
Discovery Clean Water Alliance (DCWA)
Once this sewage leaves the city’s equalization basin, all components of the sewer system is owned and operated by the Discovery Clean Water Alliance (DCWA), a joint municipal services agency that serves the cities of Battle Ground, Ridgefield, and areas of unincorporated Clark County. Each city/sewer-service-provider pays its proportionate cost of the infrastructure and operations to DCWA.
On an average day city of Battle Ground sewer customers produce 1.86 million gallons of sewage which is sent on the 16.8-mile journey on DCWA-owned infrastructure to the Salmon Creek Treatment Plant.
Ninety-percent of DCWA’s pipeline is used exclusively for city of Battle Ground sewage. Because of Battle Ground’s distance from the treatment plant and eventual outfall to the Columbia River, simply transporting the sewer is an expensive reality.
The cost of infrastructure and operations at the Salmon Creek Treatment Plant to release of effluent in the Columbia River is shared amongst DCWA sewer utility providers. The City of Battle Ground currently owns and is responsible for 23.2% of the plant’s capacity.
This year, the city of Battle Ground’s proportionate cost of DCWA infrastructure and operations is $3.3 million.
Lean more about DCWA at www.discoverycwa.org.
Regulatory Agencies (EPA, DOE, DOH)
The handling and treatment of sanitary wastewater is highly regulated by the WA State Departments of Ecology and Health, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Regulations ensure safe and healthy practices, and that wastewater is clean enough (and cool enough) to be released back into the natural environment - in this case, the Columbia River.
As new technologies emerge to protect health and environment, so do requirements for systems and infrastructure. Design work is currently underway for DCWA’s Columbia River Outfall & Effluent Pipe Project which will upgrade the transmission pipeline system from the treatment plant to the Columbia River to meet new requirements and improve water quality in the river.
DCWA-member utility providers share a proportionate cost of the updated infrastructure.
You - Sewer Customer & Ratepayer
As with any utility, it is the consumer who pays for the cost of services. As a publicly-owned utility, sewer customers in Battle Ground pay for the actual cost of providing the service.
In 2021, Battle Ground residents pay a flat rate of $39.40 per month plus a volume rate (based on water usage) for sewer services. The typical residential user pays a total of $48.58 per month.
Who pays for growth?
In the city of Battle Ground, Sewer SDCs (System Development Charges) are assessed and collected at the time of new development to offset the cost of the development to the city’s sewer infrastructure.
Why doesn’t Battle Ground have its own wastewater treatment plant?
At one time, the city did have its own treatment plant that discharged to Woodin Creek. In the mid-1980’s, an upgraded treatment plant that discharged to the North Fork of the Lewis River was considered. Regulatory requirements, environmental concerns, and public opposition, however, led to transmitting the city’s wastewater to the Salmon Creek Treatment Plant.