Cleaner wetlands expected after Bonnie Brae Sewer fix

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2000

In about a year and a half, the Bonnie Brae subdivision will get the treatment it deserves.

Money for a one-mile stretch of sewer line was included in the state's capital budget. The line will route the 30,000 gallons of partially treated sewage Bonnie Brae residents produce each day into Juneau's downtown wastewater treatment plant.

Until then, the product of the nearly 110 home treatment tanks in the North Douglas subdivision will continue to flow into the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.

Ernie Mueller, the city's public works director, said the project will keep the city in line with an accord with environmental monitors to end the Bonnie Brae discharge by the fall of 2002. Work on the project could start as early as next spring, he said.

``We're going to have to deal with the time windows the permitting agencies give us,'' he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Fish and Game are among the regulators who will review the project. Along with the subdivision, the sewer line will connect to about 80 homes along North Douglas Highway between Bonnie Brae and the Douglas Bridge.

Joe Geldhof, chairman of the Mendenhall Refuge Citizens Advisory Board, applauded the $2 million state grant that will help pay for the sewer line.

``I'm, of course, delighted that the Legislature approved the project, and we can get on with this activity,'' Geldhof said.

Bonnie Brae's sewage disposal should have been addressed a decade ago, he said. The Department of Environmental Conservation ignored the problem, he said, for far too long.

``It's about time,'' Geldhof said. ``It should have been done about 10 years ago.''

The sewer line will run along the beach before crossing Gastineau Channel next to an existing water line, said Mueller. That crossing will run from Douglas Island to the mainland near Salmon Creek, he said.

For those who find construction projects interesting, Mueller said this one should be worth a look.

``We will have a major submerged sewer line under the channel,'' he said. ``It's a pretty substantial piece of work. It's fun to watch them build these.''

The project will cost close to $4 million. City sales tax revenue will pay for about $1.3 million and property owners getting hooked up to the sewer line will pay another $800,000 or so. How much each will pay isn't known yet, but Mueller said it'll be close to $5,000, which can be paid over a decade.

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