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Marshall Nelson plans to close his Land and Sea Septic Service at the end of December. He has operated the business since 1993, but said that he has become "unhappy with what the future holds for septage disposal in Ketchikan, and I don't like the political climate here for small businesses."
Nelson's service activity ground to a standstill in the summer, after the city of Ketchikan notified him that the city wastewater treatment plant would no longer accept sludge from outside the city. Nelson's business depended on the occasional need of rural homeowners to have sludge pumped from their on-site small sewage treatment plants. For many years, septage pumped from those tanks was hauled to the city's plant for treatment and disposal.
However, the city obtained a new state discharge permit in January for its wastewater facility. That permit required lower concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria and the city is having difficulty meeting the new limits, according to a Nov. 30 memo from Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon.
Land and Sea's business was largely seasonal, with most revenue coming in the warm months, said Nelson. But this summer was a failure for business. Nelson would have to borrow money to get through the winter, but there is no guarantee that his business would be more viable next season, he said.
Nelson will sell his two pumping trucks. He will retain two other trucks he uses to service portable restrooms he rents out to construction and visitor industry companies.