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Neighbors raise stink over proposed Hansville biosolid program
HANSVILLE — A proposal for a hay field in Hansville has riled neighbors.
It's the fertilizer, not the crop, that has nearby homeowners worried.
West Sound Utility District, which handles wastewater treatment for Port Orchard, applied with the state last month for a permit that would allow it to disperse wastewater sludge to a field in the Hood Canal Drive area. If approved, the district would eventually spread up to 120 tons yearly on a 40-acre parcel adjacent to the Shore Woods and Driftwood Key neighborhoods. The property is a former tree farm owned by Olympic Property Group.
Neighbors are concerned about the smell from biosolids being spread near their homes, as well as truck traffic it could create. Joyce Hart, Kate Kenworthy and others say they are organizing against the plan and requesting a public hearing from the Department of Ecology.
Ecology and West Sound Utility District will give a presentation on the proposal at the Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council meeting, Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Greater Hansville Community Center.
"I know a lot of people would be up in arms about this, but they don't know, especially if they don't walk up here," said Kenworthy, who has lived near the entrance to the tree farm for more than 16 years.
West Sound Utility District Plant Manager John Poppe said he believes neighbors will be comfortable with the project once they learn its details.
The biosolid, which is left over from the wastewater treatment process, looks and smells like wet compost, Poppe said. The sludge would be applied to the hay field twice a year, beginning this spring if the district's permit is approved by the Department of Ecology.
Neighbors may catch a whiff of compost when it’s applied to the field, but the smell will dissipate within a half hour. Biosolids may be stored on the property, but never for more than a month, and under cover.
"They shouldn't even know we're here," Poppe said.
As far as truck traffic goes, Poppe said trucks will visit the site for two days during the biosolid applications. Initial applications will take about eight truckloads.
The district is already trucking biosolids to hay fields in Centralia and Onalaska. Poppe said about 2 percent of its biosolid could eventually be shipped to Hansville. The district handles wastewater from Port Orchard and much of South Kitsap.
The state is encouraging land application of biosolids as the preferred method for disposing of the waste, State Biosolids Coordinator Daniel Thompson said. About 83 percent of Washington biosolids are now spread on fields. Most of the remainder is incinerated and a small percentage is dumped in landfills.
West Sound Utility District has applied to be included under Ecology's general biosolid management permit. Thompson said the district will have to follow guidelines that include wetland and groundwater protection, buffers from surrounding property and limits on how much biosolid can be spread. Aside from those regulations, the state doesn't restrict where the biosolids can be applied.
"They can go virtually anywhere," Thompson said.
West Sound Utility District doesn't have a lease with Olympic Property Group yet. Olympic President Jon Rose said the company and the district are waiting to see whether the permit is approved before negotiating terms. The tree farm property has been for sale for months.
Though the project hasn't been approved yet, Poppe said the district already has buyers for the hay crop. The district's foray into agriculture won't be a moneymaker. The hay will sell for about $1,000 and the district will spend about $10,000 preparing the field.
A landfill would be the cheapest alternative, Poppe said, "but that's not the right thing to do."
It won't be the first biosolid land application in Kitsap. The City of Bremerton distributes its sludge at a tree farm, Poppe said. Still, he realizes the proposal will be unpopular with some neighbors and said the district is open to comments.
"We need to hear what people think," Poppe said.