Public Information Brochure



In 1976, a facilities plan was completed for Sewer District No. 3 that recommended a $6.44 million project to provide conventional gravity sewer service to the area with transportation to the Anacortes treatment facility. The project was not implemented because area residents did not support it.  The problem has not improved and development is increasing.  Meanwhile, new technologies have become available.


To define and evaluate the available alternative for managing wastewater from the Dewey-Similk Beach area, and to give the community the opportunity to participate in selecting the preferred means of handling sewage, the Skagit County Department of Planning and Community Development initiate the present study in the fall of 1985.


The purpose of the study is to determine a more workable solution to the wastewater disposal problems for the 2,400-acre Dewey-Similk Beach area than the present situation or the solution proposed previously.  The facilities planning process is a cooperative effort of Skagit County, Sewer District No. 3 and area residents.  Technical assistance is provided by R.W. Beck and Associates, a Seattle-based consulting engineering firm.

Many of the septic systems in the Dewey-Similk Beach community do not meet current standards.  A high percentage of failing systems has been identified in previous surveys.  Wastewater from failing systems may pose a potentially serious health hazard to certain areas of the District.



Residents in the area now rely entirely on onsite septic systems for wastewater treatment and disposal.  To provide the safest, most cost-effective wastewater treatment service to the community, a list was made of all potential methods of collecting, treating, and disposing of the area’s wastewater.  This list was analyzed and screened several times using detailed cost estimates and no-monetary factors as evaluation criteria.  From this analysis, four alternatives represent a spectrum of options from individual onsite treatment, to centralized collection and treatment.  With the options established, each neighborhood was evaluated to determine the method that best satisfies local needs.


The alternatives evaluates for serving the area are:

·        Collection Alternatives

Conventional gravity sewers

Low-pressure sewers using Septic Tank Effluent Pumping  (STEP)

·        Treatment Facility Alternatives for Neighborhoods and Larger Areas.

Failing Systems


Sand Filters

Conventional septic tank systems

·        Effluent Disposal Alternatives

Land application

Fresh water discharge

Marine discharge


The cost-effectiveness of an alternative depends upon the density of the area.  In the least dense areas, the most cost-effective methods are individual on-site systems.  In the areas with greater density, such as Yokeko Point and Similk Beach, central collection systems are the most cost-effective alternative.  The study and consequent overall recommendation looks at each neighborhood to define the most cost-effective project.

The purpose of the proposed wastewater facilities project is to protect local residents from health hazards associated with failing septic systems, and to protect the area’s water quality and aquatic resources.  The most significant improvement will be ground and surface water quality in the Dewey-Similk Beach area.   With the aid of grant funding through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Innovative and Alternative (I&A) System, and the Small Cities funding programs, an effective wastewater management system is possible. Theses programs provide grant assistance up to 75%.  If Federal money is not available, and alternative funding source is the Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE) to fund 50% of the treatment facility costs.


The recommended plan, all of which is eligible from available EPA I&A funding, includes, by neighborhood:

Yokeko Point – Collection and transport to two treatment sites using onsite technology.

Dewey Uplands – Primarily individual onsite systems, mostly mounds but some conventional leach field systems and some community sand filter systems.

Dewey Shore – Collection and transport to a community onsite treatment facility.

Gibraltar – Primarily individual onsite systems.

Similk Beach – Two Septic Tank Effluent Pumping (STEP) low-pressure collection systems serving the densely developed areas with two onsite treatment facilities on the golf course or other suitable area.

Sharpes Corner – Primarily individual onsite treatment systems.


The recommendation stresses that a detailed survey be made to determine the actual onsite system improvements needed to protect public health and water quality and that only these necessary improvements be constructed.


Not all of the exiting onsite wastewater facilities need to be replaced or repaired.  If the Sewer District commissioners decide to proceed, the first step in the design process will be to conduct a detailed inventory of all of the sites: every septic tank and disposal system will be inspected to determine whether It can remains it is, or needs to be upgraded.  The site inventory will also include a detailed evaluation of proposed community onsite treatment sites.

During the second phase, the construction and finding options would be determined for each homeowner.  If grant funding is available through the EPA I&A and the Small Cities programs, the total monthly cost is estimate between $6.00 and $50.00 per month depending on the improvements provided.  The lower cost is the monthly fee for maintenance and pumping of an unimproved septic system.  The higher cost is for a home served by collection and community treatment system. The highest total construction cost of the project is estimated at $5.35 million of which $1.45 million would be paid by local residents if grant funding was obtained.  The actual construction cost may be significantly lower than this highest possible estimate.


The most optimistic schedule calls for the Sewer District to approve and/or adopt the plan during July or August 1986, and WDOE to grant approval during October or November.  Then design could begin in November and be completed by May 1987.  Construction could begin in July 1987, scheduled for completion in October 1988.

A critical requirement for the success of this program is to centralize responsibility and authority for maintaining all on-site systems in functioning condition.  This authority should be placed with the Sewer District to assure consistent monitoring, inspection, septic tank pumping, and maintenance.


A public hearing will be held on July 24th, 1986? At 7:00 p.m. at the Fidalgo Grammar School to discuss the recommendations.

Written comments and questions may be directed to:

Skagit County Sewer District No. 3

C/o Tom Karsh

Health Unit Manager

Skagit County Planning and Community Development

Room 204

County Administration Building

Mount Vernon, Washington 98273